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Minnesota exports slip 0.5 percent in 2013

Capture1Minnesota’s exports dipped slightly in 2013 after a record-breaking performance in 2012, according to a report out Thursday from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The state exported $20.7 billion worth of manufactured, mining and agricultural products last year, down $106 million, or 0.5 percent, from a record $20.8 billion in 2012.

“They held pretty steady,” said Kathleen Motzenbecker, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office.

The release of annual export numbers lags the end of the year because of the time involved in compiling the data. DEED expects to have numbers for the first quarter of 2014 in the next few weeks.

Minnesota ranked 20th in the nation for exports, the same as it did in 2012. The state had $3,823 in exports per person. That’s about 23 percent less than the national average of $4,994.

The state suffered its biggest loss in the mineral fuel and oil category, which plummeted $503 million or 69 percent between 2012 and 2013. In addition, the ores, slag and ash category fell $351 million or 53 percent.

The latter sector is a particularly volatile category, Motzenbecker said. If it’s excluded, the declines are much more modest.

This was the case for Minnesota’s largest trading partners — Canada and China.

Exports to Canada, Minnesota’s top export destination, fell 8 percent overall. But ores, slag and ash exports there fell $65 million and mineral fuel and oil exports dropped $284 million. Together the two categories accounted for $349 million, or 65.8 percent, of the $530 million total decline.

Similarly, ores, slag and ash exports to China decreased $37 million — more than twice the $16 million total decline for that country. Motzenbecker said she’s monitoring exports to China in the wake of last year’s 1 percent decline but that she’s not unduly concerned yet.

Third-ranked Mexico was the standout among the state’s export destinations. Mexico didn’t break into the state’s top five export destinations until 2008. But since then, exports to Mexico have grown 71 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, Minnesota boosted exports there by $178 million or 14 percent. Machinery, electrical machinery and vehicles had the biggest growth.

Machinery remained Minnesota’s biggest export, but it slipped by 1 percent to $4 billion. Losses were particularly acute in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

On the plus side, food byproducts rose 19 percent to $613 million in response to growing demand in the Philippines, China and Mexico. Orders from the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia contributed to 32 percent growth in the $606 million aircraft and spacecraft sector. And the beverage sector — which covers denatured alcohol not for consumption — grew 71 percent to $350 million to serve Canadian demand for biofuels.

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