Mo. exports grow again in first half of year

7-14-12 St. Louis Post Dispatch
by Tim Logan

Missouri companies continued to sell more products overseas in the first half of 2012, despite the cooling global economy.

Exports from Missouri grew to $7.5 billion in the first six months of the year, up 5.8 percent from the same period in 2011, according to new data from the Commerce Department. That puts the state on pace for its third straight year of export growth after the recession of 2009. About two-thirds of Missouri’s exports come from the St. Louis metro area.

“Missouri exports are on track to reach nearly $15 billion for 2012,” said Tim Nowak, executive director of World Trade Center St. Louis. “Missouri exports have never been this strong, and we anticipate another record-breaking year.”

The rate of growth has slowed, though, down from 13.7 percent last year and 35 percent in 2010, as Europe has tipped toward recession and hot economies in Europe and Latin America have cooled off. The same trend has taken place nationally.

Boosting exports has been a top economic priority for state and St. Louis-area officials, who have led several trade delegations overseas and hosted many in St. Louis. The state Department of Economic Development has opened more trade offices overseas. And the World Trade Center recently opened an Asia Trade Desk at its Clayton office to help local companies that want to enter new markets.

Those efforts are starting to pay off, Nowak said. Exports to Asia grew more than 24 percent in the first half of the year.

Missouri’s biggest trading partners are still closer to home – Canada and Mexico took the two top spots. But China, South Korea and Japan rounded out the top five. Vehicles, chemicals and food were the most-exported products from Missouri.

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