A recovering economy boosted Massachusetts merchandise exports to their second highest level ever during 2010, but the commonwealth lost ground to other states as the rate of growth was only half that of the nation as a whole.
Massachusetts merchandise exports rose 11.3 percent in 2010 to $26.26 billion while exports rose nationally by 21 percent. The Massachusetts export figure trailed only the record $28.37 billion that Bay State employers sent overseas in 2008.
Instruments were the state’s leading export industry for a sixth straight year at $5.3 billion, followed by industrial machinery at $4.6 billion and electric machinery at $4.5 billion. All three sectors benefited as business investment picked up worldwide, with demand for industrial machinery up 46 percent.
Precious metals tailed off somewhat to $2.6 billion and pharmaceutical products held at $2.1 billion after a weak start. Plastics rejoined the billion-dollar list at $1.3 billion in foreign sales. The six top industries accounted for some 78 percent of total state merchandise exports.
Repeating as the top export market for Massachusetts products in 2010 was the United Kingdom ($3.2 billion), which edged out Canada ($3.2 billion). The rest of the top 10 included China ($2.2 billion), Japan ($2.0 billion), Germany ($1.8 billion), the Netherlands ($1.7 billion), Mexico ($1.3 billion), Taiwan ($905 million), Korea ($892 million) and Hong Kong ($669 million). The next 10 markets were France, Singapore, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia and India.
The 10 largest markets accounted for more than 68 percent of Massachusetts merchandise exports (down from 71 percent in 2009), the 20 largest almost 85 percent.
“The ‘two-speed recovery’ with much stronger growth in developing economies than in mature ones is clearly accelerating export activity into emerging markets,” noted Kristin Rupert, executive director of AIM’s International Business Council. “Sales to China were up nearly 60 percent last year. Half of our top 10 export markets are now in Asia, and five continents are represented among our top 20 markets.”
Export figures are prepared by the World Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER). The Export Index is prepared by AIM Research.