Update: La. exports hit record $29 billion for six-month period

Updated at 7:36 a.m. — Louisiana’s worldwide exports grew 3.4 percent to a record $29 billion during the first half of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012, according to figures compiled by the World Trade Center New Orleans.

The latest numbers demonstrate Louisiana’s strong growth in exports, said Dominik Knoll, chief executive officer of the center. The sustained growth in primary metal manufacturing and machinery (except for electrical goods), is especially exciting, he said.

“These industries are key players in our plans to increase local manufacturing,” Knoll said.

The state’s largest export markets through the first two quarters were Mexico, $3.26 billion; China, $2.58 billion, and Singapore, $1.53 billion. The other Top 10 export markets were Japan, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands, Panama, Egypt, and France. The strongest growth in second-quarter export markets took place in Panama, up 112.4 percent or $484 million; Singapore, up 44.3 percent or $469 million; and France, up 34.2 percent or $187 million.

The largest declines took place in exports to The Netherlands, down 38.7 percent; Egypt, down 17 percent; China, down 16.8 percent; and Japan, down 15.6 percent.

Petroleum and coal products, agriculture products and chemicals continued to perform well. The WTC report covers the exports of Louisiana-originating products and some major commingled bulk commodities, such as grain and coal, produced in other states, and shipped abroad from Louisiana’s ports. The latter are recorded as Louisiana exports because of U.S. Department of the Census standards used to calculate exports.

Exports of petroleum and coal products totaled $11.7 billion during the first half. The major importers were Mexico, which boosted its imports by 66.8 percent; Singapore and the Netherlands. Shipments also increased to Peru, up 233.2 percent; Ecuador, up 172.5 percent; and Panama, up 73.9 percent

“These increases most likely relate to increased shipments of refined products, primarily diesel fuel.” said Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute and chair of the Trade Center’s Energy Committee.

The demand is being driven by three things: improving economic conditions in some of the countries; higher costs for Brent-based crude compared to the heavy, sour crudes used in Gulf Coast refineries; and a reduction in those countries’ refining capacity because they haven’t maintained those facilities.

Meanwhile, Louisiana’s exports of agricultural products fell by 19.7 percent, although shipments of food and kindred products jumped by 23 percent.

Jerry Hingle, executive director, Southern United States Trade Association, said corn and soybean shipments fell due to a short supply in the United States and an increase globally.

“But the great news is that our rice exports as well as shipments of high-value commodities such as poultry and forest products are growing sharply. For the U.S. as a whole, agriculture exports are expected to reach an all-time record this year,” Hingle said.