Louisiana exports up 15 percent in 2012

Louisiana merchandise exports increased 15 percent in 2012, growing to a record $63.2 billion from $55.0 billion in 2011, the International Trade Administration reported.

Among metro areas, New Orleans/Metairie/Kenner exported $20.3 billion; Baton Rouge, $4.9 billion; Lake Charles, $4.2 billion; Lafayette, $656 million; Shreveport/Bossier City, $366 million; Houma/Bayou Cane/Thibodaux, $338 million; Monroe, $141 million; and Alexandria, $83.2 million.

“These export numbers show that for more and more Louisiana companies, selling internationally is key to growing their businesses and strengthening their bottom line,” Francisco S├ínchez, U.S. Commerce undersecretary for international trade, said in a news release.

Export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing account for an estimated 7 percent of Louisiana’s total private-sector employment. Twenty percent of all manufacturing workers in Louisiana depended on exports for their jobs in 2009, the latest data available for those figures.

The state’s largest market was China, at $9.3 billion, or 15 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports. Mexico was second at $6.5 billion, followed by Japan, $3.8 billion; the Netherlands, $3.6 billion; and Canada, $2.7 billion.

The state’s largest merchandise export category is petroleum and coal products, which accounted for $23.4 billion of Louisiana’s total merchandise exports in 2012.

Other top exports are agricultural products, $19.5 billion; chemicals, $8.3 billion; food and kindred products, $5.1 billion; and machinery, except electrical, $1.8 billion.

Some 2,737 companies exported from Louisiana locations in 2010. Of those, 87 percent were small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees. Small and medium-sized firms generated 40 percent of Louisiana’s total exports of merchandise in 2010, the report said.

“Louisiana is seeing a lot of movement in worldwide export sales,” Donald Van De Werken, director of the U.S. Commercial Service in New Orleans, said in the news release. “Our office has also seen an uptick in the number of smaller firms and entrepreneurs looking to make new sales abroad.”

The report also noted that in 2010, foreign-controlled companies employed 51,700 Louisiana workers.

Major sources of foreign investment in Louisiana in 2010 included United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Canada. Foreign investment in Louisiana was responsible for 3.3 percent of the state’s total private-industry employment in 2010.

The United States also reached an all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion in 2012 and supporting nearly 10 million American jobs, the report said.