Kirk Stewart of Staging Concepts drilled the frame of a stage platform he was fabricating at the Brooklyn Park headquarters in 2011. Behind him were stacks of stage platforms destined for customers in Canada and Venezuela. (Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune)
Minnesota exports of agricultural, mining and manufactured products reached $5.13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, a slight increase from the same period last year that qualifies as another record for the state's businesses.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said exports were up 0.6 percent from the record fourth quarter of a year ago, led by $4.6 billion in sales for manufactured products.
But Asian markets, which account for 30 percent of exports by Minnesota firms, were down 11 percent.
Gains were the strongest in Canada and Mexico (up 6 percent), the European Union (up 6 percent) and Latin America (up 19 percent). North America is Minnesota's largest export market, accounting for 37 percent of total sales, followed by Asia and then the European Union.
Exports to the state's largest national market, Canada, grew 5.1 percent from a year ago to $1.6 billion. Other major markets for Minnesota exporters were China, which at $550 million was down 14.7 percent. Mexico at $331 million, was up 8.4 percent, Japan ($269 million, down 11.3 percent), Germany ($174 million, up 7.8 percent), South Korea ($170 million, down 7.8 percent), Belgium ($168 million, up 29.1 percent), Taiwan ($130 million, up 15 percent), the Philippines ($128 million, down 10.6 percent) and the United Kingdom ($115 million, down 10 percent).
Strong gains in Latin America were led by Brazil ($95 million, up 33 percent), Panama ($13 million, up 65 percent), Colombia ($24 million, up 16 percent) and Argentina ($21 million, up 19 percent).
Machinery led all export categories, reaching $928 million, down 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago, the department said. Other top 10 categories were optic, medical ($736 million, up 4.3 percent), electrical machinery ($677 million, down 4 percent), vehicles ($514 million, up 14 percent), plastics ($223 million, down 14.1 percent), mineral fuel, oil ($160 million, up 33.4 percent), food waste ($149 million, up 17.8 percent), aircraft, spacecraft ($137 million, up 11.8 percent), ores, slag, ash ($122 million, up 11 percent) and iron/steel products ($101 million, up 9.3 percent).
Vehicles exports posted strong gains (up 14 percent), led by increased sales of special purpose vehicles and snowmobiles to Canada and tractors to Canada and Belgium. Exports of mineral fuel/oil products climbed 33.4 percent because of strong growth in Canada, which accounts for virtually the entire market. A major jump in the food waste category (up 17.8 percent) was attributed to soybean residue sales, which grew by $17 million, mostly to Canada and Ireland.
Sales of cereals plunged 59 percent to $29 million during the quarter, largely because corn exports to Japan fell from $31 million a year ago to less than $12,000.