Introducing ITA’s Exporter Database

The International Trade Administration’s newly redesigned Exporter Database (EDB), with data through 2019, presents annual data on the characteristics of U.S. companies that export goods.

More than 288,000 companies exported goods from the United States in 2019. Almost all these companies (97 percent) are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, those with fewer than 500 employees), which exported about $460 billion worth of goods in 2019. Larger companies, which usually trade in higher volumes, account for more than twice that value of trade. Using the EDB tables, the public can see where these companies are located, where they export to, what they export, and more.

Locations of Exporters

Exporting companies can be found throughout the United States. Wherever people live and work, there are companies exporting. The EDB tables offer three ways to look at the locations of U.S. exporters. Data are available the state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and ZIP-3 level

These tables include details about company size, product types, and destinations. Arranging the data to map SMEs, the state data shows California has the most SME exporters in 2019, at nearly 57,000, followed by Florida, Texas, and New York. The majority of goods exporters in every state are SMEs.

The MSA data show more detail for the country’s cities. Users may also link it to ITA’s Metropolitan Export Series for additional insights. The Metropolitan Export Series contains rich datasets related to the value of exports at the MSA-level and is calculated on the same basis as the EDB’s MSA exporter counts. As is apparent in the chart below, MSAs with more exporting companies tend export more by value, but the relationship is not exact. For example, the top exporter by value, Houston, ranks only fifth by number of exporting companies.

Export Destinations

U.S. companies export goods to almost every country in the world. Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom are the three most common destinations by number of exporters, both for all exporters and for SMEs. Canada is a destination for one out of every three goods exporters. The European Union, with all its member countries combined, is the only market that does business with as many U.S. exporters as Canada. Looking at the sectoral details for Canada, Mexico, and the U.K., mechanical machinery (NAICS 333), electronics (NAICS 334), and fabricated metal (NAICS 332) are the products exported by the most companies. These product categories are top performers for both SMEs and larger companies. Exporters to these three countries also have the highest share of SMEs, at between 92 and 95 percent of total exporters.

Although most exporters are SMEs, an SME exporter tends to ship to fewer countries than a large company would. 85 percent of SME exporters ship to four or fewer countries, in contrast with 46 percent of larger exporters. With the right approach, there are many more markets to which SMEs could export.

These details on export markets come from data in the Exporter Destination Tables. These tables show national-level data on the markets of exporting firms, including products and firm size. More details are available for the largest trade partners.

The Products That SMEs Export

U.S. companies, both large and small, export products across every category of goods. At the NAICS-3 product level, the most SME exporters can be found exporting mechanical machinery (NAICS 333) and electronics (NAICS 334). Within these categories, general purpose machinery (NAICS 3339), measuring and controlling instruments (NAICS 3345), and computer equipment (NAICS 3341) have the largest number of SME exporters. In terms of value, mechanical machinery and electronics are also two of the four most valuable export sectors for SMEs, the other two being chemicals (NAICS 325) and transport equipment (NAICS 336). The export activity of larger companies broadly reflects these same patterns.

These data come from the 2019 National Exporter Characteristics Tables, which include more details on manufacturers versus non-manufacturers, the amount of countries they export to, and further details at both the NAICS-3 and the NAICS-4 sector levels.

More to Explore

Users can find the data behind all these graphics and more in ITA’s EDB tables. The methodology page can provide further insight into how to use and interpret this unique data source.

The Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies, of which the EDB is part, is a joint project of the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Statistical Methods Division. It is a cornerstone of ITA’s Trade Data Enhancement Initiative, the goal of which is to develop and disseminate improved statistical information on U.S. international trade and its role in the U.S. economy. Please contact with any inquiries.