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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

February 20, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Washington exports push to new high

The Port of Seattle, viewed from Harbor Island. (Photo by Mike Siegel, The Seattle Times, 2012)

The Port of Seattle, viewed from Harbor Island. (Photo by Mike Siegel, The Seattle Times, 2012)

Washington was one of 16 states that reached record highs in merchandise exports for 2013, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The state’s $81.9 billion came in third behind Texas and California. Other states in the Pacific Northwest didn’t perform nearly as well.

Overall, U.S. merchandise exports hit $1.58 trillion last year, even though the trade deficit persisted — in December the gap was $38.7 billion. They were $1.28 trillion in 2010, when President Obama set a goal of doubling exports in five years. Services exports totaled $682 million in 2013 vs. $556 million in 2010; here the United States runs a surplus. But prying open markets, especially in neo-mercantilist China and with other currency manipulators is difficult.

Once again, China was Washington’s biggest customer, accounting for $16.7 billion in exports, followed by Canada (nearly $9 billion), Japan ($7 billion), the United Arab Emirates ($4 billion) and Mexico ($3.2 billion).

The report is a reminder of Boeing’s heavy footprint in making Washington an export powerhouse: Transportation equipment made up more than 54 percent of the total worldwide sold from here. Agricultural products were 12.6 percent.

For a comparison, Arizona, only slightly smaller than Washington in population, sold $19.4 billion in merchandise exports last year.

The growth of state exports was also strong, going from $54.5 billion in 2008 on the eve of the recession to $75.6 billion in 2012, then rising another 8 percent last year. The state data are not adjusted for inflation.

Elsewhere in the Northwest: Alaska rose to $4.6 billion, a slight gain from 2012 and still below its 2011 high. Fish and other marine products made up more than 50 percent of Alaska’s total.

Idaho exports fell to $5.8 billion, down from 2012′s record $6.1 billion. Computer and electronic products were the biggest segment, at 47 percent.

Oregon posted $18.4 billion, little changed from the previous year and below its 2008 high. Computer and electronic products from this Intel outpost were the largest slice, at 36 percent, followed by agriculture at 13 percent.

And Don’t Miss: The social value of finance | Baseline Scenario

Today’s Econ Haiku:

I thought the Charleston

Was meant to be a fast dance

Not if you’re Boeing

0 Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: Pacific Northwest trade, Washington trade

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