Md.'s exports climb 10% to $5.5 billion

April 20, 1994|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Sun Staff Writer

Growth in exports by Maryland companies slowed last year but still outpaced the national trend as companies here found opportunities abroad to offset the lingering domestic recession, according to a report released yesterday.

The total value of Maryland manufactured goods and agricultural products sent to foreign countries rose to $5.5 billion in 1993, up 10.8 percent over the $4.9 billion the year before. By comparison, exports increased 22 percent in 1992 over the previous year.

State officials blamed the decline -- coming after two consecutive boom years -- on recessions that have hit Maryland's major trading partners, including Japan.

Still, Maryland's 10.8 percent export growth in 1993 nearly tripled the nationwide average of 3.9 percent, according to the Maryland International Division of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

"Maryland companies have done an outstanding job of finding new markets and following up on opportunities that have been uncovered in those markets in recent years," Gov. William Donald Schaefersaid in a statement yesterday.

Every $1 million in exports supports about 19 jobs, state officials said.

But foreign investment in Maryland remained flat during 1993, according to state officials. Those figures are not expected to be released until next month.

A worldwide recession and weak economies in several key countries are seen as responsible for the continued slowdown in foreign investments here. But state officials say this country's own recession prompted many company officials to continue marketing their products aggressively overseas.

Transportation products -- such as trucks, automobiles, rail and aircraft equipment -- led Maryland's export market, with a total value of $2.6 billion, an increase of 16 percent from the previous year.

Used and secondhand merchandise -- such as used clothing and used computer equipment -- was the fastest growing export category, rising from $17 million in 1992 to more than $51.7 million last year, or a 203 percent increase.

While the rate of export growth slowed in 1993, it was still one of the best in the country, state officials said. Only five states with exports of $5 billion or more reported greater growth than Maryland in 1993.

Among all states, the value of Maryland's exports ranked 23rd, unchanged over the previous year. Between 1990 and 1992, the state's ranking climbed from 28th to 23rd.

The leading exporting states were California, $70.3 billion, Texas, $52.2 billion, New York, $36.4 billion and Washington, $29.4 billion.

Canada remained Maryland's largest trading partner in 1993, with more than $1.2 billion in Maryland goods shipped to Canada, an increase of 46.7 percent over 1992.

State officials said trade with Mexico increased 16 percent, although exports now represent a small percentage of the state's overall total. Trade with Mexico could increase significantly in 1994 now that the NAFTA agreement is in place.

"It's bound to happen. It just depends on how aggressively Maryland firms approach that market," said Curt Matthews, a spokesman for the international division. Currently, a team of seven companies' representatives is visiting Mexico to market their products, he said.

Some basic Maryland industries cater to certain needs, such as pollution control, that have been identified in Mexico.

The export statistics -- prepared by the Massachusetts Institute of Social and Economic Research using Bureau of Census figures -- reflect products which originate in Maryland, regardless of where they are shipped.

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