Value Of MN Exports Dips To $20.7B In 2013

Exports of manufactured goods climbed to a new high, but exports overall ticked down following modest increases in recent years.
Value Of MN Exports Dips To $20.7B In 2013

State officials said Thursday that the value of goods that Minnesota companies exported in 2013 dipped slightly from the prior year.

Minnesota businesses exported $20.7 billion worth of manufactured, mining, and agricultural products in 2013, down from $20.8 billion in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

And while state officials touted the important role that exports play in Minnesota's economy, Minnesota lagged the 2.1 percent national growth rate for exports, and it ranked 20th among states based on export activity, retaining the same position it held last year. The slowdown comes after Minnesota exports climbed to new highs in 2011 and 2012.

A Breakdown of Minnesota Exports

Twin Cities Business briefly reported on Minnesota’s 2013 export statistics in March, when fourth-quarter data was released. But officials released more detailed data this week, including breakdowns by export markets.

In positive news, the state’s manufactured exports grew 3.3 percent to $19.3 billion, hitting a record high. That rate outpaced the national growth rate of 2.4 percent for manufactured exports.

North America was the state’s largest global export region, accounting for $7.2 billion in sales in 2013. Canada was the largest individual export market, accounting for $5.8 billion—but that number is down 8 percent from 2012.

The state’s other top 10 markets were China ($2.5 billion, down 1 percent), Mexico ($1.5 billion, up 14 percent), Japan ($1.1 billion, down 10 percent), Germany ($760 million, up 4 percent), Belgium ($721 million, up 12 percent), South Korea ($624 million, down 12 percent), the Philippines ($552 million, up 11 percent), the United Kingdom ($528 million, up 3 percent), and the Netherlands ($521 million, up 17 percent). Mexico was Minnesota’s fastest-growing export market in 2013.

Regarding the exported products themselves, machinery sales totaled $4 billion, the most among product categories but a 1 percent decline from the previous year.

Rounding out the top 10 exported products were optics and medical instruments ($3.3 billion, up 7 percent), electrical machinery ($2.5 billion, up 2 percent), vehicles ($2 billion, up 2 percent), plastic ($1 billion, down 3 percent), food byproducts ($613 million, up 19 percent), aircraft and spacecraft ($606 million, up 32 percent), beverages ($350 million, up 71 percent), meat ($324 million, down 3 percent), and iron and steel products ($322 million, up 3 percent).

DEED said that higher demand for aircraft and spacecraft products in the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia were a big driver in that sector’s growth. Beverage exports were actually fueled by sales of denatured alcohol—for use in ethanol, not for drinking—to Canada.

Can The Twin Cities Double Its Exports?

Exports may need to pick up steam if the state wants to meet previously announced goals. In 2012, Governor Mark Dayton announced the “MSP Export Initiative,” a program whose goal is to double Twin Cities-area exports by 2017, to more than $35.2 billion.

Twin Cities exports totaled about $25.2 billion in 2012, the most recent data available, compared to $21.6 billion in 2007, a DEED spokeswoman told Twin Cities Business. (She pointed out that the metro numbers are higher than the state figures because they come from differing sources; the state data focuses on goods produced in Minnesota, while the metro data includes distributors of products made elsewhere.)

A 2012 Star Tribune story pointed out that businesses in the metro area would have to increase exports by nearly 15 percent per year to meet the ambitious goal. While significant ground would need to be covered, the DEED spokeswoman said the goal of doubling exports “is absolutely attainable and not out of reach.”

DEED also said this week that its new international trade offices should help increase export sales.

“Exports are a vital part of the state’s economy, with more than 8,600 businesses in Minnesota exporting goods and services,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement. “With new trade offices opening in South Korea, Brazil, and Germany, the state is positioned to continue building export sales around the world and attracting more foreign direct investment.”

Access detailed export statistics, including additional graphs and charts, here.

Twin Cities Business sat down with Sieben for its “Interview Issue.” Read the Q&A, which includes a discussion of exports, taxes, and workforce productivity, here.