Minnesota exports, including agricultural, mining and manufactured products, grew to US$5.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, a fourth-quarter record that was 1.4 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago. The national export growth rate was close to 11 percent. Six states experienced decreased exports during this period, ranging from slight (less than 1 percent) to significant (22 percent) declines.

For the manufacturing sector alone, Minnesota exports were up almost 3 percent to US$4.7 billion between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011, while U.S. manufactured exports increased about 12 percent.

Note: Reports based on 2011 data cover export data based on the Harmonized System, which covers manufactured and non-manufactured exports, such as agriculture and mining, but not services.

Demand in Asia and North America Sustains Slight Overall Export Growth
The state’s export gains were the highest in Asia and North America. Minnesota exports to North America increased 4 percent (or up US$70 million) to US$1.8 billion, with strong gains to Mexico (up 23 percent to US$306 million). The state’s exports to Asia rose 3 percent to US$1.7 billion (or up US$49 million), led by large gains to China (up 10 percent to US$644 million) and South Korea (up 26 percent to US$184 million).
Minnesota sales jumped 20 percent to US$91 million to the Middle East – led by the United Arab Emirates (up 60 percent to US$35 million, ranked 23rd) – and 4 percent to US$140 million to the Australia-Pacific region.
State export trends were mixed in Europe. While exports dropped almost 10 percent (or down by US$100 million) to US$937 million to the European Union, sales to other European markets grew 15 percent to US$104 million. Stronger-performing countries such as Luxembourg, Austria, Italy and Finland helped offset steep declines in exports to Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland and France.

Strong Gains in Meat, Mineral Fuel and Iron Ore Products Mitigate Other Losses
Meat exports from Minnesota businesses jumped 84 percent to US$127 million, primarily due to increased demand for fresh or frozen pork in China. Exports of fresh or frozen pork to China leaped 1,984 percent (up US$32 million) to almost US$34 million, and represented 62 percent of the state’s meat exports to China. The next two largest markets, South Korea (up 34 percent to US$23 million) and Mexico (up 52 percent to US$17 million), also performed well.
The state’s international sales of mineral fuel/oil products performed strongly, increasing by 53 percent to US$120 million. Canada represents virtually the entire market for these products (US$118 million).
Minnesota exports of iron ores were valued at US$110 million, representing a boost of 52 percent between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011. Canada (US$73 million) and China (US$37 million) were the principal buyers, but China was the main contributor to growth, with sales jumping from US$0 to US$37 million during this period.
The strong export gains in the above industries helped offset export losses in other industries, such as in miscellaneous grains (down US$55 million to US$58 million), machinery (down US$48 million to US$988 million) and vehicles (down US$45 million to US$445 million).
The main contributing products to the drop in state exports of machinery were computer parts (down 13 percent to US$165 million, due to decreased demand across multiple markets) and office machine parts (down 53 percent to US$67 million, primarily due to sharp declines in demand from Thailand and Malaysia).
The top three markets for optic and medical instruments in the fourth quarter of 2011 were China (US$105 million), Japan (US$78 million) and Belgium (US$61 million), with the former dominant market, Ireland (US$47 million), dropping to sixth-largest. While overall exports of these products dropped 3 percent (including to major markets such as China, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands), a bright spot was South Korea, where optics and medical exports jumped 75 percent to US$46 million.
The overall 9 percent drop in exports of vehicles resulted from steep declines in demand for trucks (down 54 percent to US$54 million) and public transportation vehicles (down 86 percent to US$14 million) – with trends in both of these products heavily influenced by weaker demand in Canada. However, a highlight was the growth in sales of snowmobiles (up 52 percent to US$132 million, due to increased sales to Canada and Finland).

Minnesota Quarterly Export Statistics is the most current resource available for tracking the state’s manufactured export trends and is prepared for the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) by the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Analysis and Evaluation Office (Thu-Mai Ho-Kim, 651-259-7180). Starting with the first quarter 2011, the quarterly and annual statistics reports primarily cover export data based on the Harmonized Tariff System (Schedule B), collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) and distributed by the Global Trade Information Services, rather than data based on the North American Industry Classification System industries (NAICS), collected by the USDOC and distributed by the World Institute of Social and Economic Research. Thus, current and future reports may not be comparable to past reports; all reports are available on the DEED website on the Export Statistics page (www.PositivelyMinnesota.com/Data_Publications/Data/Export_Statistics/index.aspx).

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