Minnesota's manufacturing exports plummeted 10 percent during the third quarter as the high U.S. dollar continued to wreak havoc on new overseas orders, state officials said.
Minnesota exporters sold $5 billion worth of manufactured, mined and agricultural products between July and September, according to figures released on Wednesday. The state's top-selling exports — optical and medical products — saw orders slump 5 percent to $892 million. Machinery sales were flat at $867 million.
For the quarter, Minnesota joined 41 other states in reporting a trade slump.
Total U.S. exports fell 8 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Year to date, both U.S. and Minnesota exports fell 6 percent. To compare, Minnesota's exports previously rose for several consecutive years, jumping 2.9 percent as recently as 2014.
"Despite a difficult quarter, Minnesota exporters saw pockets of growth in some parts of the world," said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development. "State exports climbed 4 percent in the European Union, and sales to the Middle East and Central and South America were up 7 percent from a year ago."
That proved a surprise because Minnesota's usual drivers are Canada, China and Mexico. Not this time.
Canada, Minnesota's largest trading partner, surprised economists by reducing Minnesota product orders by 27 percent to $1.14 billion. That was significantly bigger than the 21 percent decrease seen in the second quarter. Economists noted that Canada is in a recession and so companies are reducing factory orders from coast to coast.
Sales to Mexico, the state's second largest export market, fell 1 percent to $635 million during the third quarter.
China, which bolted last year to become Minnesota's second or third largest trade partner, depending on the quarter, saw sales remain flat at $554 million.
Asia provided Minnesota with its biggest overall declines as third-quarter sales fell 10 percent amid weaker demand in the Philippines, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Japanese sales fell 15 percent to $259 million, while Singapore orders dropped 19 percent to $116 million and South Korea fell 4 percent to $163 million.
Europe had better results with sales to Germany rising 29 percent to $217 million and the United Kingdom increasing 8 percent to $136 million. However, Belgium fell 7 percent to $175 million during the quarter. Australia orders rose 12 percent to $122 million.