RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Exports of goods from Virginia to more than 210 destinations worldwide slowed slightly in 2013, according to new data from the state Economic Development Partnership's international trade office.
Virginia exports fell to $18.1 billion last year from $18.2 billion in 2012, ranking it as the 26th largest exporting state in the U.S.
While weakness in the European and Chinese economies drove numbers down in 2013, Virginia exports are continuing to rebound from significant declines in 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession, said Paul H. Grossman Jr., director of international trade and investment for the state office.
"The trajectory is nothing but up," Grossman said of the industry that supports about 300,000 private-sector jobs. Nearly one-sixth of all manufacturing workers in Virginia also depend on shipping overseas for their jobs.
"Companies can and should, and are beginning to, recognize those international customers," he said. "The future is bright with regard to exports."
For the 17th consecutive year, Canada topped the list of destinations for Virginia exports, importing more than $3.2 billion worth of goods. China was second in 2013, importing about $1.8 billion, but that number fell nearly 8 percent from the previous year. Mexico was third with about $1.05 billion, overtaking the spot from the United Kingdom, where exports from Virginia declined more than 7 percent in 2013.
Among the top 10 destinations for Virginia exports, the Netherlands saw the largest increase of about 71 percent, as exports to the country totaled about $572 million in 2013.
Manufactured goods, which accounted for about 84 percent of all Virginia merchandise exports in 2013, increased to about $15.2 billion last year, followed by agricultural exports and mineral fuel. Agriculture exports, including soybeans, animal feed, meats and unprocessed tobacco, increased more than 8.5 percent to $2.5 billion in 2013.
Virginia's top commodity in 2013 was industrial machinery, which increased slightly to $2.6 billion last year. Electrical machinery was the second-largest export valued at nearly $2 billion, followed by plastics, vehicles, parts for aircraft or spacecraft, and paper and paperboard.
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.