California Still a Top Exporting State

Trade statistics released in February by the U.S. Department of Commerce show that California remained a top exporting state in 2020.

California exported $156.112 billion worth of goods to the world in 2020. As usual, computer and electronic products made up the bulk of exports at 24.1% ($37.56 billion), down from $40 billion in 2019. Transportation equipment and nonelectrical machinery made up 11.1% and 10.8% of total exports, respectively.

Trade Overview

In 2020, the United States exported a total of $1.431 trillion in goods to the world and imported $2.336 trillion, creating a goods deficit of $905.17 billion. U.S. exports decreased by 12.88% in 2020, while imports also decreased by 6.44%.

California’s $156.1 billion of exports in 2020 was a decrease of 10.29% from the previous year’s total of $174 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce statistics.

Manufactured exports from California had a similar decrease of 11.3% from 2019, totaling $99.41 billion in 2020. Nonmanufactured goods totaled $20.9 billion, representing a 6% decrease from 2019.

Agricultural product exports from California totaled $13.4 billion in 2020, a 4% decrease from $13.9 billion in 2019. Exports of food manufactures increased 3.8% from 2019, totaling $9.7 billion in 2020.

For 2020, California’s import trade totaled $396.02 billion, down 3% from the previous year. Imports of transportation equipment, apparel manufacturing, and oil and gas decreased significantly, by 12.69%, 21.7% and 46.67%, respectively.

Imports of food manufactures to California have been increasing over the last decade and totaled $14.3 billion in 2020, an increase of 7.9%. Imports of agricultural products, which had been increasing steadily over the last decade, fell slightly to $9.7 billion in 2020, a 4% decrease.

Trading Partners

California’s top five export markets remained the same in 2020, in order: Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea. There was some shuffling with the next five export partners to round out the top 10. Taiwan became California’s sixth largest export partner, followed by Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and India breaking through to take the 10th spot.

• Exports from California to Mexico totaled $24.078 billion in 2020, maintaining the country’s spot as California’s top export partner. Exports decreased by 13.895% compared to 2019.

• Canada remained California’s second largest export destination with $15.92 billion in exports. Exports to Canada decreased by 4.63% in 2020 compared to 2019.

• California exports to China totaled $15.02 billion in 2020, a 5.2% decrease from the year before.

• Exports from California to Japan totaled $10.65 billion in 2020. Exports decreased by 10.4% between 2020 and 2019.

• South Korean imports of California goods totaled $9.78 billion in 2020, a 6.36% increase compared to 2019.

• Taiwan became California’s sixth largest export partner in 2020, importing $7.39 billion worth of goods, a 2.39% increase from 2019.

• Exports from California to Germany totaled $6.47 billion in 2020, a slight 0.59% increase from 2019.

• California exports to Hong Kong totaled $6.33 billion in 2020, a significant decrease of 24.85% from the previous year.

• Exports from California to the Netherlands totaled $5.673 billion in 2020, an 11.47% decrease from 2019.

• India made its way into the top 10 destinations for California exports in 2020 with $4.97 billion worth of imports. Despite India’s rising in rank, California exports to India decreased by 11.74% from 2019 to 2020.


Exports in California’s top category, computer and electronic products, decreased by 6.56% to $37.56 billion, the lowest in the last decade. Transportation equipment exports also decreased by 23.65% totaling $17.3 billion in 2020. Exports of petroleum and coal products decreased 41.88%, totaling $2.8 billion in 2020. Exports of textiles and fabrics, along with leather and allied products, decreased 22.52% and 33.35%. Exports of nonelectrical machinery and chemicals, however, increased 4.9% and 4.8%, respectively.

CalChamber Position

California is one of the 10 largest economies in the world with a gross state product of more than $3 trillion. International trade and investment are major parts of our 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.

Although trade is a nationally determined policy issue, its impact on California is immense. California exports to more than 225 foreign markets. Trade offers the opportunity to expand the role of California’s exports. In its broadest terms, trade can literally feed the world and raise the living standards of those around us.

The California Chamber of Commerce supports expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

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Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed the CalChamber international activities for nearly four decades. She serves on the National Export Council (appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce), the California International Relations Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Committee, 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 now serves as a regent. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.