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Trade with the Asia-Pacific Region Benefits Illinois’s Businesses and Workers

The Asia-Pacific region offers tremendous opportunities for U.S. exporters. In a world where 95 percent of consumers reside outside our borders, APEC comprises 40 percent of the global population. Many of these dynamic economies are growing faster than the world average and together generate 56 percent of global GDP in 2010. The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market in the world for U.S. exports and receives over 70 percent of U.S. agricultural exports.

Today, is showcasing the importance of trade with the Asia-Pacific Region for Illinois’s businesses and workers.

Illinois’s goods exports in 2010 totaled nearly $50 billion. Of Illinois’s total exports, $33 billion, or 67 percent, went to markets in the Asia-Pacific region. The top three product categories to APEC member economies exported in 2010 were machinery, transportation equipment, and chemicals. 

Goods Exports Support Jobs for Illinois Workers: Jobs supported by Illinois’s goods exports are estimated to be 360,200. One-quarter (24.7 percent) of all manufacturing workers in Illinois depend on exports for their jobs, the ninth highest share among all 50 states. Although not measured, there are also additional jobs supported by Illinois’s exports of services (2008 data are the latest available).

A total of 16,902 companies exported goods from Illinois in 2008. Of those, 15,170 (90 percent) were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with fewer than 500 employees.

Small and medium-sized firms generated 22 percent of Illinois’s total exports of merchandise in 2008. Notably, small and medium-sized firms benefit from the tariff-elimination provisions of free trade agreements. The transparency obligations, particularly those in the customs chapters, are vital to small and medium-sized firms, which may not have the resources to navigate customs and regulatory red tape.