California Still a Top Exporting State

The U.S. Department of Commerce now has 2018 trade statistics available through the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) “Trade Stats Express.”

In 2018, California exported $178.4 billion to 230 foreign economies, up from $172 billion in 2017. California’s top export markets are Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea.

California is one of the 10 largest economies in the world with a gross state product of more than $2.5 trillion. International trade and investment are major parts of the state’s economic engine that broadly benefit businesses, communities, consumers and state government. California’s economy is diverse, and the state’s prosperity is tied to exports and imports of both goods and services by California-based companies, to exports and imports through California’s transportation gateways, and to movement of human and capital resources.

U.S. Trade Facts

In 2018, combined goods and services imports topped $3.1 trillion and services by itself reached $557.9 billion: food, feeds, and beverages ($147.4 billion); capital goods ($693.3 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($372.3 billion); and consumer goods ($647.9 billion). The U.S. also had record imports from several countries, led by China ($539.5 billion) and Mexico ($346.5 billion).

In 2018, combined goods and services exports were almost $2.5 trillion. They also increased 6% from 2017. Exports of services alone hit a record $828.1 billion. The United States also had record exports to several countries including Mexico ($265 billion) and the United Kingdom ($66.2 billion).

The largest export markets for U.S. goods in 2018 were Canada ($298.7 billion, a 5.6% increase), Mexico ($265 billion, an 8.5% increase), China ($120.3 billion, a 7.5% decrease), Japan ($74.96, a 10.3% increase), and the United Kingdom ($66.23, a 16.2% increase).

California Trade Facts

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that,in 2018, California exports amounted to $178.4 billion. This is an increase from the 2017 total of $172 billion. California maintained its perennial position as a top exporting state.

Exports from California accounted for 10.7% of total U.S. exports in 2018. California trade and exports translate into high-paying jobs for more than 1 million Californians.


Mexico continues to be California’s No. 1 export market. California exports to Mexico increased to $30.7 billion in 2018, up from $26.7 billion in 2017. Mexico purchases 17% of all California exports.

California’s exports to Mexico are driven by computers and electronic products, which account for 25.8% of all California exports to Mexico. Other top categories included transportation equipment, non-electrical machinery, and electrical equipment, appliances and components.


Canada is California’s second largest export market, purchasing 9.9% of all California exports. In 2018, California exported more than $17.75 billion to Canada.

Computers and electronic products remained California’s largest exports, accounting for 32.5% of all California exports to Canada.


California is the largest exporting state to Asia. In 2018, California exported $122.706 billion in goods to the region.

Greater China

California exports to Mainland China totaled $16.345 billion in 2018. Computers and electronic products accounted for 25.6% of exports to China.

Exports to Hong Kong were $9.905 billion in 2018, a decrease from $12.1 billion in 2017, losing the spot as California’s No. 5 export destination to South Korea.


California exports to Japan totaled $13.1 billion in 2018. Computers and electronic products accounted for 17.7% of total exports.

South Korea

South Korea overtook the spot of California’s No. 5 trading partner as California exported $9.942 billion to South Korea in 2018. Almost 30% was made up of non-electrical machinery.

European Union

California exports to the European Union (28) totaled $31.84 billion in 2018. California is the top exporting state to Europe.

Computers, electronic products, transportation equipment, chemicals, and miscellaneous manufactured commodities are California’s leading export sectors to the region. European Union countries purchase 17.8% of all California exports.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.