Exporting is critical to the economic health, competitiveness and prospects of our region and represents a significant portion of the state’s economy. By selling goods and services internationally, small and medium-sized companies in the region can boost revenues and support local job growth.

Recent research shows that:

Illinois exports have increased by $23.87 billion since 2009 (57.3 percent) [1], outperforming the national average of 56 percent.[2]

Illinois exports totaled over $65.49 billion in 2018.[1]

More than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside of the U.S., and over 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S.[3]

In 2016, exports from Illinois supported an estimated 325 thousand jobs.[4]

Goods exports accounted for 7.6 percent of Illinois GDP in 2018.[4]


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In 2018, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, and Australia were the leading destinations for Chicago area goods exports. Canada was the state’s largest market with merchandise exports of $17.73 billion, followed by Mexico ($10.19 billion), China ($3.46 billion), Germany ($3.30 billion), and Australia ($3.18 billion).[1]

23,252 companies exported from Illinois in 2014, including 20,926 small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees; the number of small and medium-sized exporters is projected to increase due to global market demand.

  1. “Illinois in the International Marketplace,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, accessed on Feb. 25, 2020, https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Export/TradeFlyers/IL-InternationalMarketFlyer_2019-20.pdf
  2.  https://www.uschamber.com/international/international-policy/benefits-international-trade
  3.  “Economy & Trade,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, accessed on Feb. 25, 2020, https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/economy-trade
  4.  “Illinois Trade Facts,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, accessed on Feb. 25, 2020, https://ustr.gov/map/state-benefits/il