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La. exports hit record $63.1 billion in 2013

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana merchandise exports increased 0.3 percent to a record $63.1 billion in 2013, up from $62.9 billion in 2012.

The International Trade Administration said Tuesday Louisiana's strong performance in 2013 helped the United States reach a record for exports of U.S. goods and services, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013 and supporting nearly 10 million American jobs.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1g6pYKv ) Louisiana was among 16 states to set new records for export sales in 2013, with 10 additional states experiencing merchandise export growth.

Louisiana's merchandise export sales in 2013 outpaced the 2012 figures in many top destinations, including: France, up 122 percent; Panama, up 110 percent; Belgium, up 40 percent; Colombia, up 35 percent; and Argentina, up 26 percent.

Key export categories include petroleum products; agricultural products; chemicals; food and kindred products; and machinery manufacturers.

"Exporting is not just for big businesses; the vast majority of Louisiana exporters are small and medium-sized firms who are reaching new heights with their export success," said Donald Van De Werken, director of the U.S. Commercial Service in New Orleans.

The latest breakdown of figures available showed 4,432 companies exported from Louisiana locations in 2011. Of those, 3,715, or 83.8 percent, were small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees. Small and medium-sized firms generated over one-third of Louisiana's total exports of merchandise in 2011.

"If your business has a good track record of selling throughout the United States, it's likely your company could make the leap into selling abroad," Van De Werken said. "Expanding abroad helps companies' bottom line and supports many jobs here at home."

The state's largest market in 2013 was China at $8.2 billion, representing 13.1 percent of the state's total merchandise exports, followed by Mexico, $6.3 billion; Canada, $3.1 billion; Japan, $2.8 billion; and the Netherlands, $2.8 billion.

The state's largest merchandise export category is petroleum and coal products, which accounted for $25.5 billion of Louisiana's total, followed by agricultural products, $15.8 billion; chemicals, $9.1 billion; food and kindred products, $4.7 billion; and machinery, except electrical, $2.5 billion.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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