Kentucky exports hit record $40B


Global exports from Kentucky rose 16.6% year-over-year to a record high of $40.2 billion in 2023, as more products made in the Bluegrass State were shipped around the world.

Aerospace products and parts led the state’s exports by category in 2023, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division and WISERTrade.

The aerospace industry shipped more than $13.3 billion in products out of the United States in 2023, a 27.7% increase from the previous year.

“Our commitment to global partnerships is another way we’re showing Kentucky is the best place to do business and that Kentucky-made products are second to none,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.

“In Kentucky, we’re working hard to ensure our place as a leader in economic development, and this growth in exports shows our efforts are succeeding,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement.

Pharmaceuticals and medicines, as well as motor vehicles, continued to show growth and remain among Kentucky’s leading exports.

Pharmaceuticals saw $3.8 billion in products distributed, up 7% from the prior year while motor vehicles increased 1.6% to $3.7 billion.

Canada remained the top destination for state goods, with over $9.1 billion in products shipped there in 2023. The United Kingdom followed, taking on more than $3.8 billion in exports, then Mexico with almost $3.7 billion, France with over $3.6 billion and China with more than $2.8 billion.

Kentucky’s rising exports build on the state’s best four-year period for economic growth, according to the governor’s office.

Since 2019, the state has seen more than 1,000 private-sector new location and expansion projects totaling over $30.3 billion in announced investments that created nearly 52,000 jobs.

The state also has seen the largest general fund budget surplus and rainy-day fund, as well as the most jobs filled

Kentucky received rating increases from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings while Moody’s Investors Service upgraded its credit outlook to positive from stable.

Last June, S&P upgraded Kentucky’s issuer credit rating to A-plus from A; the outlook was revised to stable from positive.

S&P said the upgrade was supported by the state’s “sustained trend of structural balance, with operating surpluses that have led to a robust budgetary trust stabilization fund at its highest level ever, continued pension funding commitment following pension reforms, and funding these pension costs in excess of actuarially determined contributions.”

In May, Fitch upgraded Kentucky’s issuer default rating to AA from AA-minus and upgraded the state’s annual appropriation-backed debt and other state IDR-linked debt to AA-minus from A-plus. Fitch assigned a stable outlook to the credit.

In September, Moody’s affirmed the state’s issuer rating at Aa3 and revised the outlook to positive from stable. 

Kentucky is also rated AA-minus by Kroll Bond Rating Agency, which assigns a stable outlook to the credit.

“Thanks to 2023’s record high, Kentucky-made products continue to make their way into more homes and businesses all around the world,” Beshear said.

“Our commitment to global partnerships is another way we’re showing Kentucky is the best place to do business and that Kentucky-made products are second to none,” he said.

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