Iowa companies, large and small, are getting in on the export boom. The state’s factories and businesses shipped out merchandise to foreign customers valued at $13.9 billion last year, not including raw farm products. That’s a five-percent drop from 2012, attributed to unfavorable exchange rates.
Patricia Cook is Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Iowa. “The countries in Europe buying big items, like big agricultural machinery or trucks that are made in Iowa…because of the ratio of the Euro to the Dollar, it’s a very noticeable change, those orders are down,” Cook says.
Iowa’s largest trading partners last year continued to be Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and China. Cook says smaller companies in Iowa could be exporting more goods. “Even the smallest companies, little producers of popcorn or devices that are homegrown and invented here in Iowa, things are made in little towns and if we can just teach them how to get a connection to a buyer overseas, that’s how we like to find people all across Iowa – to show them the path,” Cook says.
Iowa shipments to Hong Kong surged 39 percent. Spain, the Netherlands, and Japanese imports were also up double-digits for manufactured goods, excluding raw farm products. “Medical devices going into hospitals, like CAT scan devices, infrastructure to build new malls and hi-rises and things like that…we have several manufactures of ambulances in Iowa. We have very highly advanced big technology based products that are shipped overseas,” Cook said.
The Commerce Department reports total U.S. exports last year hit a record $2.3 trillion and supported nearly 10 million jobs.