Georgia’s Trade, Exports Hit Records Again, Bucking Concerns About Stalling Globalization

Amid concerns about supposed “de-globalization,” another year of record trade showed that Georgia’s economy remains internationally integrated, even as some of the trade lanes were starting to shift.

The state’s total trade — the tally of all imports and exports passing through its ports — surpassed $196 billion in 2022, making Georgia the No. 7 trading state, just ahead of Florida and just behind New Jersey, partially home to the busiest ports in the United States. (Georgia ranks eighth by population.)

Despite efforts to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., Georgia’s imports swelled in line with national trends, growing 20.3 percent to $148.7 billion (more than three-quarters of its total trade). 

Or, perhaps greater local manufacturing actually drove imports: Buying more inputs reflected “Georgia’s status as a global logistics and distribution hub, as well as the global supply chains that support manufacturing across the state,” according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. 

Exports, meanwhile, grew by 11 percent to a record $47.2 billion, even as uncertainty in the global economy persisted. A stronger dollar, which generally hits exports, seemed to bolster their value in a year marked by rising prices.  

Gov. Brian Kemp took note of the fact that 85 percent of exports came from small businesses, and the international sales to 216 countries and territories came from all 159 of Georgia’s counties. 

“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. Every county in the state contributed to this success, and this is just the latest sign that opportunity can be found in every zip code in Georgia,” Mr. Kemp said in a statement.

Finding Friendlier Shores? 

Digging into numbers released by the state provides hints into the nuances of a still-fluid global trading environment even with the growing bias toward countries allied with (or at least friendly to) the U.S.

China’s inertia remained strong, even in light of intense geopolitical rivalry and strategic U.S. efforts to displace its dominance as the world’s factory. With total trade of nearly $29 billion, China remains Georgia’s top trading partner by far.  

Imports from China grew by 5 percent to $24.8 billion. That’s nearly twice the closest rival — Mexico, at $13.6 billion. Exports to China dropped by nearly 3 percent but remained elevated at $4 billion, making it the No. 3 customer for Georgia behind USMCA partners Canada and Mexico. 

The growth in trade with those two nearby markets in 2022 suggested that companies within the former NAFTA region are looking for sources — and customers — closer to home and in countries friendly to the United States.

Mexico regained its spot as Georgia’s No. 2 export market with 26 percent growth to $4.6 billion, while imports from Mexico grew 17.5 percent to $18.2 billion, largely driven by the automotive and aerospace sectors, according to the state. (Car deliveries, which had stalled during the chip shortages of the pandemic and its immediate aftermath, picked up in 2022, and Georgia’s total trade included $16 billion worth of them)

Exports to Canada, Georgia’s perennial top customer, grew by 12.2 percent to $7 billion, but even despite 26 percent import growth (to $6.2 billion) Canada fell to No. 4 in total trade behind Germany, which benefited from even greater imports. Georgia’s exports to Germany remained basically flat at $2.4 billion, but imports grew by 29 percent to $11.2 billion. 

Other big car-producing countries — including South Korea and Japan, which stood at No. 3 and No. 5 in terms of imports — saw 37 percent and 20 percent in import growth, respectively. 

New Asian Players Benefit From China Diversification Push

Georgia’s trade with Vietnam and India continued to grow dramatically, perhaps reflecting their rising importance as low-cost, ex-China sourcing locations that maintain good ties with the U.S. 

Imports from Vietnam, for instance, grew by more than 49 percent to $7.2 billion on top of a similar growth rate in 2021. Georgia bought just over $2 billion from Vietnam just two years ago. 

India saw big increases on both sides yet again. Exports to India, which is set to have the world’s largest population in a few short years, grew by 40 percent to $1.4 billion, making it the No. 6 market for Georgia products — its highest position in the top 10 since Global Atlanta has been covering the state’s trade numbers. Imports from India grew by 34 percent to $4.8 billion. Total trade with India stood at $6.2 billion, climbing 35 percent — faster than any other trading partner except South Korea (No. 5 at $13.1 billion). 

Thailand, a Southeast Asian nation with a strong base of auto parts suppliers, also snuck into the state’s top-10 trading partners as imports from there surged 24 percent. Trade with Thailand stood at $5 billion, with almost 90 percent of the bilateral balance ($4.4 billion) consisting of Thai products being sent into Georgia. 

Total trade with Singapore, Georgia’s No. 5 export destination, grew more modestly as exports fell by 6 percent. 

A surprise was the United Arab Emirates. The tiny desert nation became Georgia’s 10th largest export destination thanks to “strong automotive exports,” according to the report. 

Georgia played up the role of its logistics infrastructure, including its ports, as well as its international offices in 12 markets with helping drive the record increases. Markets where the state has representation (with the European Union counting as a single market) accounted for 52 percent of exports and 57 percent of total trade.  

Economic development Commissioner Pat Wilson had this to say: 

Georgia is a global gateway because of consistent investment in our logistics infrastructure and strategic relationships around the world. Today’s success is the result of a decades-long vision shared by Georgia leaders since the first international trade offices were opened fifty years ago. The International Trade team, international representatives, and economic development partners across the state open the doors to new opportunities, helping companies achieve transformational success in global markets.

Exports By the Numbers 

The top-10 markets for Georgia exports were: 



% Growth (Decline)

1. Canada

$7 billion 


2. Mexico

$4.6 billion 


3. China

$4 billion 


4. Germany

$2.5 billion 


5. Singapore

$2.1 billion


6. India

$1.4 billion 


7. Japan

$1.3 billion 


8. Netherlands 

$1.3 billion 


9. United Kingdom 

$1.1 billion 


10. United Arab Emirates

$1 billion 


Top Export products

  1. Civilian aircraft and parts: $7.3 billion 
  2. Motor vehicles: $3.2 billion 
  3. Chemical woodpulp: $1.7 billion 
  4. Engines and gas turbines: $1.5 billion 
  5. Poultry: $1.5 billion 
  6. Cotton: $1.25 billino 
  7. Medical Instruments: $1 billion 
  8. Kraft paper and paperboard: $1 billion 
  9. Data Processing Equipment: $924 million 
  10. Telephones: $827 million

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