MN Exports Set Another Quarterly Record: $5.13B
Minnesota exports reached $5.13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 0.6 percent from the same period in 2011 and a new quarterly record, according to data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
The dollar value of Minnesota’s agricultural, mining, and manufactured product exports has consistently ticked up over the past couple of years and has set new records for the past nine consecutive quarters. But despite the fourth-quarter growth, the state’s growth rate lagged the 2.8 percent national average during the period.
Manufactured exports led the way during the fourth quarter, totaling $4.6 billion in sales, down 1.9 percent as compared to 2011’s fourth quarter.
“Minnesota exports have been on a record-setting pace for more than two years, helping to drive growth in the state economy,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement. “Minnesota’s small and mid-sized companies are seizing the opportunity to sell their high-quality products and services in the global marketplace and thus increasing jobs here in Minnesota.”
Exports to the state’s largest market, Canada, grew 5.1 percent to $1.6 billion as compared to the same period in 2011.
However, state exports to Asia, which accounts for 30 percent of Minnesota sales, plunged 11 percent to $1.5 billion thanks to steep declines in exports to China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, South Korea, and India. DEED pointed out that sales of cereals fell a whopping 59 percent to $29 million during the quarter, largely because corn exports to Japan decreased to less than $12,000 from $31 million a year ago.
Meanwhile, exports to Central and South America jumped 19 percent to $267 million, led by Brazil, Panama, Colombia, and Argentina, all of which posted double-digit increases. And exports to the European Union, which accounts for one-fifth of Minnesota sales, rose 6 percent to $991 million; gains in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany helped offset declines in the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, and Finland.
Machinery led all export categories, reaching $928 million, but that figure was down 6.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. Other top categories were optic, medical, electrical machinery, vehicles, plastics, mineral fuel, oil, and food waste.
Vehicle exports increased 14 percent, and its strong gains were led by increased sales of special-purpose vehicles and snowmobiles to Canada and tractors to Canada and Belgium. And exports of mineral fuel and oil product climbed 33.4 percent due to strong growth in Canada, which accounts for virtually all sales.
In March 2012, Governor Mark Dayton announced an initiative that aims to increase exports from Twin Cities-area companies from $17.6 billion in 2010 to $35 billion by 2017.
A Star Tribune report pointed out that in order to meet that goal, Minnesota companies would need to boost exports at a rate of nearly 15 percent each year—much higher than the rate of growth that’s occurring.