Export Trade Shows Promise for W.Va.

Coal and other minerals accounted for more than half the $8.6 billion in exports from West?Virginia last year. But that still left about $4 billion in a wide variety of Mountain State merchandise bought by customers in other countries.

Four billion dollars means a lot of jobs. It also is a substantial contribution to local economies and tax bases.

Exporting is widespread in the state. Several counties were represented when, earlier this summer, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued commendations to 37 businesses that export products from West Virginia.

Two things stood out from the list of honorees. First, many of them deal in specialized products. Second, they export to 72 countries.

State officials occasionally travel abroad on “trade missions” intended to forge links between West Virginia companies and customers abroad. Clearly, the more that can be done, the better.

Though $4 billion in non-coal exports certainly is a lot, Mountain State firms could do much better. That may be an indication the state should increase its efforts to build trade abroad.