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What is Exporting? Exporting Definition and Trends

What is Exporting?

Exporting is when a country produces goods and services and sells them to a different country. Common exports include energy, automobiles, food, and raw materials.

Businesses that sell their goods and services to customers in other countries are exporting them – they are producing them in one country and shipping them to another. Exporting is one way that businesses can rapidly expand their potential market.

To give you a sense of the size of the market outside the U.S., the United States Office of the Trade Representative reports that 95% of consumers live outside the U.S. and about 75% of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S.

Exports are big business. In fact, the United States Census Bureau reported that the US exported $2.134 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020. Demand for U.S. goods and services remains high.

Top 10 USA exports in 2022

  1. Petroleum refining
  2. Oil drilling & gas extraction
  3. Car & automobile manufacturing
  4. Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  5. Organic chemical manufacturing
  6. Plastic & resin manufacturing
  7. Natural gas liquid processing
  8. Semiconductor & circuit manufacturing
  9. Navigational instrument manufacturing
  10. Nonferrous metal refining

Source: IBIS World

Top 10 countries the U.S. exported to in 2022

  1. Canada
  2. Mexico
  3. China
  4. Japan
  5. South Korea
  6. Germany
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Netherlands
  9. Brazil
  10. India

Source: Trading Economics

U.S. businesses interested in learning more about how to start exporting can get free support services from the government. U.S. Export Assistance Centers located in major metropolitan areas provide assistance in finding overseas buyers, shipping products, customs requirements, and collecting payment.

The first step in getting into exporting is to register at for expanding into new markets.

You can also take free online training courses in exporting to help decide if exporting makes sense for your business, and if your products and services are eligible to be exported. Some countries restrict certain products from entering their borders.