North Dakota exports triple in one decadeDespite a slowdown in late 2008, the value of North Dakota exports has nearly quadrupled this decade, led by sales of farm and construction machinery to Canada, Europe and former Soviet republics, the North Dakota Trade Office says.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Despite a slowdown in late 2008, the value of North Dakota exports has nearly quadrupled this decade, led by sales of farm and construction machinery to Canada, Europe and former Soviet republics, the North Dakota Trade Office says.
The value of the state’s exports grew from $625.9 million to $2 billion in 2007, the Trade Office said. The export total for 2008 is incomplete, but exports through September totaled $2.1 billion, about $100 million more than the record set in 2007, the agency said.
North Dakota machinery exports through the first three quarters of 2008 totaled $943 million compared with $929 million for all of 2007, the office said.
Susan Geib, executive director of the trade development office, said the state’s exports increased by three times the national average through September. While fourth-quarter sales are expected to slump, “we’re still seeing stellar growth,” she said.
For the nation as a whole, exports of U.S. goods and services in December dropped 6 percent to $133.8 billion, the fifth straight monthly decline, federal figures show. Sales of farm products, domestic cars, medical equipment and computers all fell.
North Dakota Trade Office spokesman Jeff Zent said a weakened world economy and a subsequent credit crunch in key markets led to a slowdown in North Dakota’s fourth-quarter export sales. He said the last three months of the year historically have been the strongest quarter.
But Zent said value-added crop and processed food exports through September totaled more than $665 million compared with $616.5 million for 2007.
Figures for October and November are up more than 40 percent compared with the same months in 2007, Geib said.
North Dakota’s biggest export markets for machinery are in Canada and Europe. Geib said the fastest-growing markets are the ex-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.
About 40 machinery manufactures and distributors in North Dakota export products, she said.
“Developing countries have made it a key objective to invest in their ag economies,” she said.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan intends to spend billions of dollars over the next few years developing agriculture, and Geib expects North Dakota companies to land much of that business.
North Dakota agriculture and machinery exports should remain strong even in a weak global economy, she said.
“We have the products and expertise,” Geib said. “And people still need to eat.”