Minnesota Exports at $5.4 Billion in First Quarter

Exports dipped 4% from first quarter of 2020, but trended upwards in March for the first time in a year


St. Paul – Sales of agriculture, mining and manufacturing exports from Minnesota dipped 4% between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, falling to $5.4 billion, according to a report released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). U.S. exports rose year over year by 2% during the same period. Minnesota exports grew 6% in March 2021 over March 2020, interrupting persistent monthly declines since March 2020.

“It’s a positive sign to see our exports increasing in March, a trend we hope continues in the coming months as our economy recovers,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “DEED’s Minnesota Trade Office is ready to help Minnesota companies renew relationships with existing customers and open avenues to new markets as the global economy emerges from the pandemic.”

Canada ($1.4 billion) and Mexico ($608 million) were the state’s two largest export markets in the first quarter of 2021. Other market leaders were China ($559 million), Japan ($336 million), Germany ($223 million), Korea ($159 million) and Belgium ($158 million).

Minnesota’s exports increased 3% to North America, boosted by growth to Mexico (up 16%). State exports slid 10% to both Asia and the European Union. While exports began to rebound in markets such as Belgium (up 12%), Taiwan (up 46%) and the Philippines (up 64%), they continued to struggle in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Korea. Exports grew 1% to both the European markets outside the European Union region (led by the 64% surge in exports to Switzerland) and the Central and South American region, where Costa Rica (up 18%), the Dominican Republic (up 57%), Nicaragua (up 158%) and Guatemala (up 81%) uplifted sales.

Exports of four of the state’s top 10 products grew in the first quarter: machinery (up 19%), electrical equipment (up 11%), vehicles (up 9%) and food by-products (up 27%). Machinery exports were propelled by machinery used to make semiconductors sold to the Philippines (up $104 million).

The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) supports small- and medium-sized Minnesota businesses with STEP grants, technical assistance, and services at offices in strategic overseas locations. The MTO expanded its network of foreign offices from six to 13 during the pandemic to further support the state’s export assistance and promotion efforts. Regions with new foreign offices include Africa, the Arab Gulf and South America.

The state STEP grants (50% matching up to $7,500) support a range of export development activities, including participation in virtual trade shows and missions during the pandemic. These grants will be instrumental in helping companies resume and expand their international market presence, as restrictions are lifted and the global economy recovers.

The full first quarter 2021 report is available on DEED's website in the Export and Trade Statistics section.

DEED is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website or follow us on Twitter.


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