Georgia sets international trade record for second straight year

Credit: cus

Credit: cus

Exports grew 11%, led by aerospace and agriculture

The state of Georgia posted a second-straight record year for international trade in 2022, including a new high for exports to other countries.

Total trade last year topped $196 billion, an increase of 18% compared to 2021, and the bulk of that was via imports. But Georgia products sold overseas totaled $47 billion, an 11% increase from 2021.

“For the second year in a row, Georgia has shattered international trade records,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a news release. “I’m proud that 85 percent of exporters were small businesses, reaching from the Port of Savannah to the North Georgia mountains and everywhere in between.”

Aerospace products were Georgia’s top export, totaling $9.2 billion last year, the state said. Georgia is the home of a Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta and Gulfstream along the coast. Agricultural and forestry exports grew 21% last year to nearly $5.8 billion, while automotive exports totaled $4.1 billion, a decline from a year earlier amid challenges in global automotive supply chains.

Georgia is a hub for global trade, thanks in part to its diverse economic core of agriculture and large and small businesses. Trade also flows across its infrastructure of deep-water ports in Savannah and Brunswick, the world’s busiest airport in Hartsfield-Jackson International and an extensive highway and rail network.

Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers finished the nearly $1 billion project to deepen the Savannah River channel to make it easier for larger classes of cargo ships to reach the sprawling container port. The Georgia Ports Authority said a record of nearly 6 million 20-foot equivalent container units, or TEUs, passed through the Savannah port in 2022, up 5% from a year earlier.

In December, the authority approved plans to renovate docks at its Ocean Terminal in Savannah to handle more container traffic, creating flexibility to grow over the next eight to 10 years. Coupled with that, the authority is shifting “breakbulk cargo,” such as heavy machinery and certain automotive products to the Brunswick port as part of a $247 million terminal expansion.

This week, the Georgia Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement to launch design of a planned expansion of the shipping channel in the Brunswick harbor. The design and dredging are expected to cost $17.3 million, with the ports covering a third of the channel work and the Army Corps covering the rest.

A recent study by the University of Georgia found that maritime trade accounts for $44 billion of the state’s gross domestic product, with the ports directly or indirectly touching more than 439,000 jobs.

Global supply chains were affected by COVID-19 and many U.S. ports saw backlogs of ships waiting to dock as consumer spending emerged from the worst of the pandemic. Savannah saw some delays but generally became a beneficiary of new service as shippers bypassed more congested harbors.

Though Savannah has seen robust container traffic growth, global trade demand is expected to ebb amid high inflation and concerns about recession.

Tuesday’s report said Georgia ranked seventh nationally in the value of international trade. Georgia’s top trade partners in 2022 were China, Mexico, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, India and Thailand.

The top destinations for Georgia exports were Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Singapore, India, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson credited the state’s investment in infrastructure and global partnerships.

“Today’s success is the result of a decades-long vision shared by Georgia leaders since the first international trade offices were opened 50 years ago,” he said.

Top trading partners

Georgia reported Tuesday that the total value of the state’s international trade grew 18% to $196 billion in 2022 compared to 2021. Of that total, $47 billion came from products made or grown in Georgia that were exported elsewhere. Here is a list of Georgia’s top trade partners:

China: $28.9 billion

Mexico: $18.3 billion

Germany: $13.7 billion

Canada: $13.4 billion

South Korea: $13.1 billion

Japan: $9.8 billion

Vietnam: $7.7 billion

Singapore: $7.4 billion

India: $6.2 billion

Thailand: $5 billion

Source: Georgia Department of Economic Development 2022 Global Trade Summary