Minnesota exports fell 7 percent in 2015

Amid a strong dollar and a slowing global economy, the value of Minnesota exports in 2015 dropped to $20 billion – down 7 percent from a record high mark the previous year.
Through much of last year, changing market dynamics strained export-reliant industries. Manufacturers in particular struggled toward the end of last year to counteract sluggish trade. Manufactured exports slipped 5 percent year over year, according to state data released Friday.
The export lag lines up with a national trend. Across the United States, exports fell by 7 percent last year. Just eight states posted gains, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said in its annual export rundown.
Canada remained Minnesota exporters’ top customer, but sales to the country plunged 21 percent last year to $4.4 billion, in part because of shrinking demand for electrical machinery. The value of exports to Asia, meanwhile, dropped 4 percent to $6.4 million and exports to European markets slid 2 percent to $4.6 billion.
Vehicle exports plummeted 14 percent and aircraft fell 13 percent, making those industries the biggest losers in 2015. Electrical machinery was down 7 percent, matching losses recorded by grain, seed and fruit exporters.
But it wasn’t all bad news. Mexico, which in 2014 leapfrogged China to become the state’s No. 2 foreign customer, took in $2.5 billion in Minnesota products last year – a 6 percent increase.
In smaller regions, the state’s companies also saw modest gains. Minnesota outfits tallied $1 billion in exports to Central and South America – up 5 percent – while the Middle East welcomed $432 million in goods, notching a 4 percent increase.
The Australia-Pacific region bought $609 million worth of Minnesota-produced goods, 2 percent more than it did in 2014.
Pharmaceutical goods helped balance out losses elsewhere, posting a 48 percent increase in exports last year. Railway equipment exports were up 90 percent.
“While sales were down overall last year, Minnesota companies continued to build export markets and attract new customers around the world,” Katie Clark Sieben, who heads the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said in a statement.
Minnesota companies distributed roughly 1,000 different types of products to customers in more than 200 countries, according to state figures.

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