Connecticut commodity exports grew to $14.6 billion in 2021, but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Exports increased 5.4% over 2020 levels, almost $1.7 billion (-10.3%) below 2019 output. Commodity exports accounted for 4.72% of the state's GDP last year.

Connecticut's Top 10 Export Destinations 2021

The increase can be attributed to a modest reopening of Connecticut’s major export markets, led by the critical aerospace industry.

Despite not reaching pre-pandemic levels, the rebound of nearly all export commodities represent “encouraging signs of growth, recovery, and momentum,” according to the latest Connecticut Economic Digest.

The export numbers do not include service exports from the state's insurance and financial sectors.

Top Commodities

Connecticut’s top five commodity exports in 2021 were:

  • Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts: $4.5 billion, up 3.5% from 2020 and down $1.7 billion from 2019
  • Industrial machinery, including computers: $3 billion, up 2.3% from 2020 and down $139 million from 2019
  • Optic, photo, medical equipment: $1.3 billion, up 9.5% from 2020 and up $49 million from 2019
  • Electric machinery: $1.2 billion, up 6.2% from 2020 and down $9 million from 2019
  • Plastics and articles: $500 million, up 14.6% from 2020 and down $21 million from 2019

Among all exports, the biggest year-to-year percentage increase was with iron and steel, which rose 73% from $136 million in 2020 to $235 million.

The largest percentage decrease was in pharmaceutical products, which fell 38% from $449 million in 2020 to $276 million.

Major Markets

Connecticut’s top five commodity export partners were:

  • Germany (up 7.9% from 2020 and down $179 million from 2019)
  • Canada (up 3.1% from 2020 and down $231 million from 2019)
  • China (up 14.5% from 2020 and down $5 million from 2019)
  • United Kingdom (down 11% from 2020 and down $426 million from 2019)
  • Mexico (up 31% from 2020 and up $176 million from 2019)

Export Grants

Regionally, Connecticut is the number two exporter in New England, behind Massachusetts.

New England’s 2021 commodity exports totaled more than $62 billion—up 21% from 2020 and up $5.4 billion from 2019.

Connecticut ranks 31st nationally, dropping three places from 2020. The top exporters were Texas, California, New York, Louisiana, and Illinois.

The digest highlighted the Department of Economic and Community Development’s State Trade Expansion Promotion grant awards.

The grants target "export development and training opportunities, company participation in virtual and in-person foreign and domestic trade shows and trade missions, website translation, and other export initiatives and events."