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Minnesota exports hit record levels

Minnesota's manufactured exports reached a record $4.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007 -- 14.5 percent ahead of the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The state outpaced the U.S. export market, which expanded 12.1 percent in the quarter.

Minnesota's export growth was strong in the second half of 2007 and finished at an overall pace of 6.5 percent for the full year. U.S. export growth averaged 10.4 percent in 2007.

"Even with the slowdown in the nation's economy and the falling U.S. dollar, exports are a source of strength," said Dan McElroy, DEED commissioner. "During the record-breaking fourth quarter, Minnesota exporters saw gains across a range of industry sectors to countries in different regions of the world."

Transportation equipment, computers and electronics, and food products led the surge in the state's export growth in the final three months of 2007, with each sector jumping by more than $100 million.

The biggest increase in demand for Minnesota products came from Canada, the Philippines and Mexico. Canada was Minnesota's largest trade partner in the fourth quarter, buying $1.2 billion worth of the state's manufactured exports, nearly 33 percent more than in the fourth quarter of 2006. China ($298 million), Ireland ($247 million), Japan ($191 million) and Germany ($190 million) rounded out the state's top five export customers during the period.

Three South American countries posted strong growth, with state exports to Chile increasing 134 percent to $35 million; Argentina, 71 percent to $29 million; and Brazil, 37 percent to $67 million.

"The strong fourth quarter results show the investments Minnesota businesses are making in the global economy and the opportunities that are available," said Tony Lorusso, Minnesota Trade Office executive director. Among other highlights of the quarter: Computers and electronics were Minnesota 's largest export, accounting for $1.1 billion in fourth quarter sales. That was the first time exports in that category have exceeded $1 billion since the second quarter of 2006.

The state's other strong export categories were machinery ($653 million), transportation ($601 million), miscellaneous, including medical ($489 million), and food ($365 million).

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