Infographic summarizing the characteristics of U.S. goods exporting and importing companies
Last Published: 7/21/2016
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Graphic representation of the talking points listed below

U.S. Trading Companies: 2014 Highlights

U.S. Exporters Up Since 2009
  • More than 304,000 U.S. companies exported goods in 2014, down slightly from 2013 but up 10 percent since 2009. Nearly 98 percent (297,519) of these companies were small- or medium-sized with fewer than 500 employees.
  • SMEs were responsible for 33 percent of goods exports (by value) in 2014.
  • Among all U.S. manufacturers that exported goods in 2014, nearly 97 percent were SMEs and exports from these companies represented 20 percent of the value of exports from manufacturers.
  • In 2014, wholesalers and other non-manufacturing firms (including unclassified firms) made up 76 percent of all SME exporters, generating 65 percent of total SME exports.
Many U.S. Companies Both Export and Import
  • More than 408,000 U.S. companies engaged in goods trade in 2014.
  • Of those companies that engaged in trade, 83,606 both exported and imported merchandise in 2014, of which 78,937 (94 percent) were SMEs.
  • SMEs accounted for 97 percent (182,371) of identified importers in 2014.
  • SMEs imported $642.9 billion in goods in 2014, which was a 4.0 percent increase from 2013. Known goods imports overall increased by 3.6 percent in 2014.
Small Businesses Could Benefit from Entering New Markets
  • In 2014, 59 percent of all SME exporters (nearly three-fifths) posted sales to only one foreign market.
  • Ninety-three percent of all SME exporters do business from a single U.S. location.
  • 19 percent of SME exports go to affiliates (related parties) abroad.
  • Canada is by far the most popular export destination for SMEs. In 2014, more than 88,000 SME exporting companies registered sales to Canada.
SMEs Stand to Benefit from New FTAs
  • In 2014, more than 21,000 SMEs exported goods to South Korea and more than 14,000 SMEs exported goods to Colombia.
  • The number of SME exporters sending goods to Korea increased by 972 companies since 2011.
  • In 2014, almost 94,000 SMEs exported goods to the European Union.
Value of SME Exports at the Local Level
  • California had both the most exporters (75,722) and the most SME exporters (72,591) in 2014.
  • The number of SMEs exporting from Illinois grew by approximately 400 between 2013 and 2014, the largest increase among the 50 states. Mississippi saw the fastest growth in the number of SME exporters, up 9.0 percent in 2014.

Prepared by the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, Industry and Analysis. The Commerce Department's Exporter Database (EDB) is a joint project of the International Trade Administration's Office of Trade and Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division.

United States Supply Chain Exports Imports Exporters Importers Manufacturers Small and Medium Enterprises Foreign trade