The Largest Import And Export Markets In Every US State

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Some say money makes the world go around. Idealistic types say it’s love that keeps us spinning. But, in reality, the modern world is powered by trade, i.e., the buying and selling of different goods.

And no country buys or sells more than the United States of America. That’s why Ondeck decided to use the USA as the focus of its latest research into the global trade industry.

By looking at official US international trade data from January 2022, OnDeck created some detailed maps of the biggest import and export markets in every US State.

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Here's a closer look at why they show us.

Top Imports

The Most Common Import In US States

In 2021, the US consumed 19million barrels of petroleum per day. That's over 7billion barrels of oil a year.

Domestic oil production can only cover about 40% of the USA's daily energy needs. As such, it imports the rest from five countries: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria.

So it makes perfect sense that the 'black gold' is the number one import of twelve US states, making it the most imported state commodity overall. It's imported more than any other good in Montana, Wyoming, Alabama, and Oklahoma.


Oil Imports In Texas???

Oil is also the top import in Texas. The Lone Star State is the largest producer of crude oil in the United States. It pulls more than 5million barrels worth of oil out of the ground per day.

So why, when Texas produces so much oil, is the state still importing vast amounts of the stuff every year?

Hugh Daigle, associate professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, explains:

"Higher sulfur content, more sour crude oils, are actually cheaper to purchase. This cheap, lower-quality crude comes from Canada, and Venezuela. In Texas, they produce more ‘sweet’ oil; that means it's easier to break the hydrocarbons down into gasoline or jet fuel."

"To explain it all in - excuse the pun - crude terms, Texas imports and refines the cheap stuff and sells the sweet, expensive stuff all over the world."

Some Other Top State Imports

Cow meat is South Dakota's top import. Again, this might seem a little unusual to those familiar with the state's economy. As a major agricultural centre, South Dakota farms raise a huge number of cows and other cattle.

In fact, South Dakota is one of those US states where cows outnumber humans - and by quite a long way. According to the last census, South Dakota is home to nearly 3.9 million cows and less than 900,000 humans. Let's hope they don't get their act together and rise up!

But there's a big difference between farming cows and butchering them for meat. And South Dakota doesn't have the infrastructure to butcher enough of its cows to meet consumer demand. So it imports beef from other USA states and foreign countries, including Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

The situations in Texas and South Dakota are not uncommon. Instead, they illustrate the standard import/export paradigm in domestic and international trade markets. It’s a paradigm that’s existed for centuries.

"Places like South Dakota and Texas are part of a classic colonial economy," says Fred Kirschenmann, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. "They export cheap raw materials and import expensive processed goods."

Unique State Imports

Unique State Imports

OnDeck's research also looked at the most unusual, unique, and, in some cases, freaky state imports.

The most disturbing import good is in Texas; it's human blood. Texas isn't known as a medical research hub. So we can only speculate on why it brings in so much human blood.

Maybe Ambrosia, the California-based start-up, is thinking of opening a new office in Texas. It offers to fill your veins with the blood of young people for $8,000 per litre. And yes, Ambrosia is a real company.

Top US Export

The Top US Export In Every State

Aircraft and aerospace technology is the top export in 15 states and the number one US State export overall. And that's despite the industry taking a $90billion hit during the global Covid-19 lockdowns.

The US aerospace export industry is experiencing a mini-boom. But, unfortunately, this is one of those industries that tend to perform better when the world is at its worst.

Based in Maryland, weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin recently sold more than 30 fighter jets to Germany. The $100billion deal is part of Germany's military upgrade in response to events in Russia and Ukraine.

Iowa helps feed the rest of the world by exporting colossal amounts of wheat.

Despite falling on harder times, Michigan continues to live up to its reputation as the Motor State by exporting millions of new cars every year.

South Dakota's most popular export is brewery dreg. Brewery dreg is the unappealing (and stinky) yeast sludge that settles at the bottom of unfiltered beer. Dregs have several agricultural applications. It's used as crop fodder, fertilizer, and water treaters.

Unique Export

Unique US State Exports

Maine exports $100million worth of lobster every year. The majority goes to China, where serving the tasty crustaceans to dinner guests is a status symbol among the country's burgeoning middle class.

Catgut suture is Tennessee's biggest export. Don't worry; we didn't know what it was either. Catgut is surgical stitching naturally degraded by the body's enzymes.

You’ll find a complete state by state breakdown of the US trade markets in the tables below.