Minnesota Exports Drop 2 Percent
Photo courtesy of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority

Minnesota Exports Drop 2 Percent

Two of three quarters this year have shown losses.

Sales of Minnesota export goods slid 2.2 percent in the third quarter, another signal of ongoing global uncertainty. That marks a sharp reversal from last year. For the third quarter of 2018, Minnesota exports were up 6.5 percent.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz pointed to President Donald Trump’s trade policy as a key reason for the decline in state exports.

“Minnesota farmers and small business owners rely on access to export markets to grow their businesses and create jobs,” Walz said in a statement. “The President’s trade war continues to create uncertainty for Minnesotans and hurt our economic growth.”

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) released the new export numbers on Monday. In the first quarter of 2019, the state saw a small 1.5 percent gain in exports. But in the second quarter, exports dropped 4 percent. The latest numbers mark the second consecutive quarter of export declines.

Canada is far and away Minnesota’s largest export market, accounting for more than one-fifth of all export sales. But exports to Canada were also down 2 percent in the third quarter.

Mexico ranked as the second largest market in the third quarter, with a strong 8 percent increase to $659 million. For the third quarter, export sales to China were down 3 percent from a year ago to $651 million.

Sales of optics and medical products were up 4 percent for the quarter. But sales of machinery were down 8 percent and exports of electrical equipment were down 6 percent.

The state’s annual export sales were up 8 percent in 2017 and posted a 10 annual percent gain for 2018. Barring a blockbuster fourth quarter, it looks like the state’s exports in 2019 will be down for the full year.