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Wendy Reuer, Published July 15 2013

Merchandise exports rise to record $786 million in F-M area

FARGO – Merchandise exports totaled a record $786 million in the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2012, rising 8 percent from $731 million in 2011, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

The Grand Forks area saw a 28 percent increase, with exports rising from $176 million to $225 million. Bismarck increased 45 percent, from $64 million to $93 million.

Crop- and machinery-related items topped the exported merchandise list for Fargo and Grand Forks. In Bismarck, the primary exports were machinery and chemicals.

Although the Fargo area saw a smaller percentage increase than Bismarck or Grand Forks, the metro has consistently increased its exported merchandise and remains the highest total dollar earner for exports, said Heather Ranck, director of the U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center in Fargo.

Nationally, the growth rate of exports was 4.3 percent between 2011 and 2012, said Tim Truman with the International Trade Administration.

Ranck said the study did not include oil exports because small towns and rural areas were not part of the data. The state of North Dakota is the No. 1 oil exporter in the U.S.

“Even though oil isn’t being counted, we’re still above the national average, which shows that our exports are diversified,” Ranck said. “Despite being in the middle of the country, we still have a thriving export industry.”

International Trade Administration data show that the 153 U.S. metro areas exported more than $1 billion in merchandise in 2012. More than 200 urban areas reported export growth, with 170 setting record export records in 2012.

The Houston area was the largest export market in the country. The Texas metropolitan area shipped exports totaling $110.3 billion in 2012, $5.8 billion more than in 2011.

Houston’s largest export market belongs to oil related products.

Ranck said North Dakota cities where manufacturing exports are high have companies that produce agriculture, construction or energy-related materials. All are industries that are doing well now, which helped increase exports.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530