What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

Minnesota export growth not gangbusters, but sets another record in 2012

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: May 8, 2013 - 9:22 AM

Minnesota exports of agricultural, mining and manufactured goods rose 1.2 percent in 2012, an increase of $246 million over the year before, the state reported Wednesday.

That's not gangbusters growth, but it qualifies as a new record for the state. Exports were $20.6 billion, and Minnesota ranked 20th among all states in sales overseas. Manufacturing exports support nearly 115,000 Minnesota jobs, the state said.

"Minnesota exports have been on a record-setting pace for more than two years and have contributed to new jobs and investment in our state," said Katie Clark Sieben, the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development. "This growth signifies an opportunity for Minnesota and Minnesota businesses, and it is critical that we continue to build on this success."

Canada was Minnesota's largest national market, with sales climbing 2.7 percent to $6 billion, accounting for 29 percent of exports. Other top export markets were:  China ($2.5 billion, up 7.1 percent); Mexico ($1.3 billion, up 6.7 percent); South Korea ($707 million, up 0.8 percent); Belgium ($640 million, up 2.7 percent); and Taiwan ($489 million, up 0.1 percent).

Other countries among the state's top 20 export markets were Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, the Netherlands, France, Brazil, Ireland, Thailand, Italy, India and Switzerland.

The state's top export product was machinery, which accounted for $4 billion in sales, up 2.2 percent from the previous year. Other major exports were: optic, medical instruments ($3.1 billion, up 10.4 percent); vehicles ($1.9 billion, up 10.4 percent); ores, slag, ash ($668 million, up 68.5 percent); food waste ($516 million, up 6.8 percent); and mineral fuel, oil ($502 million, up 15.6 percent).

The big jump in exports of ores, slag and ash ($668 million, up 68.5 percent) was driven by major increases in sales to China (up $256 million) and Canada (up $36 million). Other top exports from Minnesota were electrical machinery; plastic; aircraft and spacecraft; meat; iron and steel products; paper and paperboard; miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruit; cereals; and iron and steel.

Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton announced the MSP Export Initiative, a new trade strategy aiming to double Twin Cities exports by 2017. This initiative focuses on growing exports, increasing the global visibility of the Twin Cities region and helping companies get their products into foreign markets. The initiative was developed through a partnership between the Minnesota Trade Office, the city of Minneapolis and the Brookings Institution.

The governor also is planning a trade mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway in June. The goal of the trade mission is to increase state exports, attract foreign direct investment opportunities, and connect with potential customers and longstanding partners in Europe and Scandinavia.

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