Manufactured exports from district states remained level in 1999 with a 0.4 percent decrease after dropping 6 percent in 1998. Improving economic conditions in Asia and gains in exports to Mexico provided strength to overall exports. However, the district's primary export destinations, Canada and Europe, and primary export industries, machinery and computer equipment, remained flat in 1999. Exports from South Dakota increased over 5 percent, the highest district state increase, while North Dakota finished with the largest decrease at 10 percent.
As economic conditions in Asia improved during 1999, district manufactured exports to Asia showed signs of recovery, with a 2 percent increase after dropping 17 percent in 1998. In 1999, gross domestic product (GDP) increased 9 percent and 13 percent respectively in Hong Kong and South Korea, and remained level in Japan. GDP the previous year dropped 5 percent in Hong Kong, 6 percent in South Korea and 2 percent in Japan.
Increased growth in Asia boosted exports to several regions, including a 50 percent hike in exports from North Dakota to Japan, primarily due to gains in food and kindred products. South Dakota exports to newly industrialized countries (NICs) jumped 44 percent. The Chinese market purchased over 100 percent more exports from Montana and about 50 percent more exports from Wisconsin and North Dakota, attributed to increased exports in machinery and computer equipment.
Exports to developing markets strengthen
Manufactured exports to several developing markets strengthened in 1999. Exports to Mexico increased over 80 percent for Montana, the state's second largest export destination, and rose over 20 percent for Minnesota and South Dakota. Exports from North Dakota and Montana to Central America increased 150 percent and 84 percent respectively. Montana sent 400 percent more exports to Africa due to strong increases in exports from primary metal industries.
Primary destinations finish weak
Manufactured exports to the large markets of Canada and Europe finished weak in 1999, as district exports to Canada increased 2 percent and exports to Europe dropped 2 percent. Exports to Canada decreased over 20 percent for North Dakota. Exports to Europe slid 47 percent in Montana and 6 percent in Wisconsin. Some of the softness in exports to Europe may be attributed to a weaker Euro relative to the U.S. dollar, which makes district exports more expensive abroad. In 1999, the Euro decreased in value relative to the U.S. dollar by 13 percent.
Machinery, computer equipment down
Machinery and computer equipment, which comprises one-third of district manufactured exports, posted a lackluster performance in 1999, as exports dropped for Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin. However, increased exports from smaller industries helped recoup these losses. Exports of food and kindred products increased almost 80 percent in Montana, 30 percent in North Dakota and 13 percent in South Dakota. Paper and allied products grew in all states, including a 185 percent increase in North Dakota, spurred by a jump in exports to Mexico, and an almost 70 percent gain in Montana, largely due to increases to Canada.