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Minnesota exports rebounded in 2021, according to experts

State exports rebounded to $24 Billion in 2021, 6% above 2019, prior to the pandemic. North American markets drove growth — machinery, electrical equipment and mineral fuel and oil led export gains.

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St. Paul – Minnesota exports of agricultural, mining and manufactured products rebounded from 2020, increasing by 17% to $24 billion in 2021, according to a report released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Not only did exports recover in 2021 from weakened exports during the first year of the pandemic in 2020, but they even surpassed 2019 levels, prior to the pandemic.

“The continued rebound in the state’s exports is good news for Minnesota businesses – and the 112,000 Minnesotans whose jobs are supported by state exports,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We’re heartened by this continued growth, but we know we must continue to do more to bring Minnesota goods to the global stage. We want the world to know: we build what matters in Minnesota.”

“The Minnesota Trade Office offers innovative programs and services to assist small and medium-sized Minnesota companies navigate international markets and successfully grow their export sales,” said Gabrielle Gerbaud, Executive Director of the Minnesota Trade Office. “We are dedicated to growing state exports to global markets as the world continues to emerge from pandemic disruptions.”

North American markets drove Minnesota’s export growth in 2021. Demand significantly strengthened in Canada, Minnesota’s top export market ($6.6 billion, up 36%) and Mexico, Minnesota’s third largest export market, ($2.5 billion, up 27%).

Export growth was more moderate to Asia ($7.7 billion, up 8%) and in Europe ($4.8 billion, up 11%). Exports recovered to 2019 levels in Asia but fell short in Europe (down 7%). Exports grew the most to the Philippines (ranked 6th largest; up $451 million to $786 million), China (ranked 2nd largest; up $235 million to $2.7 billion) and Ireland (ranked 10th largest; up $102 million to $547 million).

Among products, machinery, electrical equipment, and mineral fuel & oil saw the largest export gains. Surging global sales of machinery (up $1 billion), mineral fuel & oil (up $751 million), and electrical equipment (up $747 million) fueled Minnesota’s overall recovery in exports in 2021 and pushed these exports over their 2019 levels.

Minnesota conducted $56 billion in total trade in goods with over 200 countries in 2021. Total trade grew 16% since 2020 (up 8% since 2019). With $32 billion in imports of goods, the state ran a trade deficit in goods of about $9 billion in 2021 . In 2021, U.S. exports grew by 23% over 2020. Minnesota ranked 22nd highest in exports among the 50 states for total exports, down from 21st in 2020.

Additional details can be found in the 2021 annual report, which is posted on DEED’s website in the Export and Trade Statistics section.

The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) supports small- and medium-sized Minnesota businesses through technical assistance, export education and training programs, trade promotion activities, services by offices in strategic overseas locations, and export expansion grants. State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grants – 50% matching, up to $7,500 – support a range of export development activities, including participation in virtual and in-person trade shows and missions. The MTO also serves as Minnesota’s Office of Protocol, ensuring that the state’s interactions with foreign delegations and dignitaries are conducted with appropriate diplomatic etiquette and cultural practices.

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