Minnesota Reports Record Quarter for Exports

Gains in exports to Asia and Canada drove the state's exports to record levels.

Minnesota exported $4.8 billion of manufactured, agricultural, and mining products during the first quarter-setting a new quarterly record-according to data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The state's exports grew 13 percent from the same period in 2010. Manufactured products were the dominant export category, accounting for $4.4 billion of total sales in the quarter, up 12 percent from the same period a year ago.

In a statement, Katie Clark, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office, said that while the first quarter results are encouraging, many small and mid-sized companies that have the potential to export and are not currently doing so.

“With 95 percent of consumers living outside of the United States, Minnesota must focus on selling its products to the global marketplace,” Clark said in a statement. “The Minnesota Trade Office will continue to provide guidance to Minnesota companies to increase exports and increase jobs here in Minnesota.”

Canada remains Minnesota's largest customer, accounting for $1.3 billion in exports (27 percent of the state's total) in the first quarter, up 16 percent from a year ago. China and Japan followed, seeing significant increases of 35 percent and 20 percent respectively. Other top markets saw gains as well-Mexico ($250 million, up 4 percent), Germany ($198 million, up 12 percent), South Korea ($163 million, up 5 percent), Belgium ($146 million, up 3 percent), and Singapore ($140 million, up 17 percent).

Asia was the strongest-performing global region accounting for 35 percent of the state's exports. The region bought $1.7 billion worth of Minnesota goods, a 20 percent increase from last year. North America came a close second, with exports in the region totaling $1.5 billion and increasing by14 percent, mainly due to strong gains in Canada.

Machinery led all export categories with $949 million in sales, up 8 percent, followed by medical and optical instruments, which posted a 3 percent decrease in sales. Agricultural exports, such as cereals and miscellaneous grains/seeds/fruit-most of which went to Japan-declined as well (8 percent and 23 percent respectively). On the other hand, the state's meat exports soared 111 percent, primarily due to demand in South Korea for frozen meat.