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Exports up 17 percent in first quarter

Minnesota manufactured exports climbed 17 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from the same quarter a year ago, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

State manufacturers exported $3.9 billion worth of products in the first quarter, compared with exports of $3.4 billion during the same period in 2009.

"The improving export market is helping Minnesota businesses and is a sign that the global economy is recovering," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. "Asia was particularly strong during the quarter, with sales to the region jumping 75 percent from a year ago."

The state's strongest trade partner is Canada, which imported $994 million worth of Minnesota-made products during the quarter, roughly one-fourth of the state's total exports and an increase of 19 percent from a year ago.

Other major export markets for state manufacturers during the quarter were China ($395 million, up 67 percent), Japan ($242 million, up 56 percent), Mexico ($193 million, up 23 percent), Germany ($171 million, down 11 percent), South Korea ($153 million, up 66 percent), United Kingdom ($141 million, up 6 percent), Belgium ($141 million, down 6 percent), Ireland ($120 million, down 61 percent) and Singapore ($118 million, up 33 percent).

Computers and electronics is the state's largest export sector, accounting for $924 million in total sales, up 18 percent from a year ago.

Other major export sectors are machinery ($662 million, up 11 percent), transportation equipment ($434 million, up 24 percent), miscellaneous including medical devices ($432 million, down 17 percent), food ($312 million, up 12 percent), chemicals ($264 million, up 58 percent), paper ($181 million, up 68 percent), electrical equipment ($162 million, down 1 percent), fabricated metal ($135 million, up 24 percent), and plastics and rubber ($122 million, up 46 percent).

"Export demand grew in eight of the state's top 10 sectors during the quarter," said Ed Dieter, acting director of the Minnesota Trade Office, located within DEED. "Computers and electronics grew $139 million in the past year alone, thanks largely to stronger sales in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia."

Miscellaneous including medical devices experienced the largest drop during the period, primarily because sales to Ireland declined from $220 million to $62 million in the past year. Sales of those goods, however, performed strongly in China, Japan and Germany.