Iowa merchandise exports rise 10% in 2012 to record level

State's 2012 merchandise export sales outpace many top destinations' 2011 figures

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Double-digit increases in merchandise exports to five countries propelled Iowa to a record $14.6 billion in 2012, up 10 percent from $13.3 billion the previous year.

The International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce said the state's strong performance helped the United States reach a record $2.2 trillion of exports in 2012, supporting nearly 10 million American jobs.

Iowa’s merchandise export sales last year outpaced the 2011 figures in many top destinations, including South Africa, to where Iowa is now sending 88 percent more; Ukraine (+49 percent); China (+31 percent); Brazil (+20 percent); and Russia (+20 percent).

Key export categories included manufactured machinery, food and kindred products, agricultural products, chemicals and transportation equipment.

"Iowa is seeing a lot of movement in worldwide export sales,” said Patricia Cook, director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Des Moines. "Our office has also seen an uptick in the number of smaller firms and entrepreneurs looking to make new sales abroad."

Francisco Sanchez, U.S. Commerce under secretary for international trade, said exports continue to be a driver of the U.S. economy supporting millions of jobs.

"These export numbers show that for more and more Iowa companies, selling internationally is key to growing their businesses and strengthening their bottom line," Sanchez said.

The state's largest market is Canada. Iowa posted merchandise exports of $4.3 billion to Canada in 2012, 29.7 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports.

Canada is followed by Mexico ($2.5 billion), Japan ($892 million), China ($752 million), and Germany ($658 million).

Export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing account for an estimated 7.1 percent of Iowa's total private-sector employment. Over one-fifth (21.2 percent) of all manufacturing workers in Iowa depend on exports for their jobs, according to the International Trade Administration.

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