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Idaho pulls in record-breaking numbers for exports in 2012

2012 was a banner year for Idaho exports with multiple industries reporting a triple-digit increase in products.

Global sales for Idaho goods broke records with a total of more than $6.1 billion.

Idaho is an agriculture-based state and our top exports reflect that. Semi-conductors and industrial equipment top the list, followed by food and agriculture.

Idaho’s dairy industry and potato production aren’t just big for the state, they’re sent around the world.

Dairy sales account for a large chunk of the state’s export sales, but there’s also a market for Idaho’s spud farmers.

In 2011, food and ag export sales were around $835 million. Last year, sales jumped to close to $948 — an increase of about 13 percent.

“Exports are what brings new dollars into the economy,” said Paul Patterson, agricultural economist with the University of Idaho. “They get spent and that’s what helps create new jobs.”

Canada, Taiwan, Mexico and Australia are a few of Idaho’s top export destinations. Asian countries like China, South Korea and Japan, are newer to the list.

“It’s a growing economy. Those people want to change their diets, improve their diets,” said Patterson. “So it’s logical that a state like Idaho that’s in a position to be able to export to Asia is going to benefit from that market.”

Patterson said the access Idaho has to ports on the west coast makes it easier to export.

“We can move products into asia more cost-effectively than compared to the gulf states for example,” said Patterson.

State leaders said a new grant is helping more small-to-medium sized Idaho companies explore export opportunities.

From 2011 to 2012, 48 Idaho companies took advantage of it and had success.

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