Minnesota exports stalled in the first quarter of the year, the state reported Wednesday, the result of a “challenging global economic environment” that has also slowed national export growth.
International sales of agricultural, mining and mostly manufactured products from Minnesota reached $4.9 billion in the first quarter, according to the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Technically, it was another record quarter, though the growth was only three-tenths of 1 percent. The same story played out in the first three months of the year nationally, as exports rose less than a percentage point, to $390 billion.
“Minnesota exports increased by $17 million compared to the first quarter of 2012, contributing to overall growth of our economy,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the economic development agency, in a statement.
Exports from Minnesota declined in China, Mexico, Japan, Germany, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
One bright spot was Canada, by far Minnesota’s largest trade partner, where exports grew 8 percent in the first quarter. Canada accounted for 29 percent of all Minnesota exports in the first quarter, at $1.4 billion. The next largest trade partner is China, which at $533 million accounted for 11 percent of all exports.
Machinery led all export products, reaching $1 billion, down 4 percent from the same period a year ago. Other top products were medical and laboratory equipment, up 2 percent at $797 million; electrical machinery unchanged at $612 million; vehicles up 17 percent at $432 million; and plastic down 14 percent at $240 million.
Exports of aerospace equipment from Minnesota more than doubled, led by increased sales of civilian aircraft parts to the Netherlands. Canada and Belgium were responsible for much of the gains in vehicle sales, including passenger cars, snowmobiles, special purpose vehicles, motor trucks and tractors.