The Georgia Department of Economic Development and Governor Brian Kemp recently announced that the State of Georgia achieved a record-breaking year for international trade for the second year in a row. Georgia’s total trade with the rest of the world totaled $196 billion in 2022. The press release emphasized the record-breaking $47 billion of exports, an increase of 11% on 2021. Canada, Mexico, and China represent Georgia’s three largest export markets.
What was not mentioned is that imports must have made up the other $149 billion. In fact, imports grew at an even faster rate than exports, increasing by 20% from 2021. The top three countries Georgia imports from are China, Mexico, and South Korea.
It is easy for politicians to tout the benefits of exports as they are closely tied to jobs in those firms and industries. However, economists often emphasize the benefit of trade via imports. While some people will be the beneficiary of jobs in an exporting firm, all consumers potentially benefit from lower prices, more variety, and better-quality imports.
The trade data from the International Trade Administration for the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area for 2022 has not been released, but in 2021, we exported $1 billion. The largest recipients of our goods were counties in the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation group, with $680 million worth of exports. The next largest group were the 20 countries that the United States has Free Trade Agreements with. Our largest export by value was chemicals, followed by transportation equipment. Unfortunately, the International Trade Association does not track imports to the Augusta area.