FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2012) – The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) show Kentucky exports grew nearly 8 percent to more than $10.7 billion in the first half of 2012, breaking the previous record of nearly $10 billion set in the first half of 2011.
“This is a very positive sign of Kentucky’s growth and success in the global marketplace,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The commonwealth is moving in the right direction, and we’re continuing to see encouraging results from our Kentucky Export Initiative that will further increase exports, strengthen our economy and put Kentuckians to work.”
Kentucky’s merchandise export sales for the first half of 2012 outpaced the 2011 figures for the same period to several nations, including Austria (up 164 percent), Sweden (123 percent), Italy (79 percent), Mexico (27 percent) and Japan (19 percent). Kentucky’s exports to the small European nation of Luxembourg, for example, were up 50.6 percent from $12.8 million to $19.3 million.
Merchandise exports include categories such as transportation equipment, chemicals, machinery manufactures, computer and electronic products and electrical equipment.
Kentucky’s export growth in the motor vehicles and parts sector, as well as the beverage and spirits sector, which includes bourbon, were particularly strong, increasing 32.6 percent and 30 percent respectively.
“Exports are a key driver of economic growth, and this bodes well for Kentucky’s future,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “We have a lot of programs in Kentucky to help businesses leverage financing, grants and other key resources to boost exports, which support thousands of jobs across the commonwealth.”
Beshear has brought a new focus to international trade activities through the creation of the Kentucky Export Initiative, a consortium of trade-related organizations across the state working to encourage export growth by small and medium-size Kentucky companies.
Through this initiative, Kentucky has awarded nearly 60 companies more than $350,000 through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. The grant is designed to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to raise the value of exports for companies that are currently doing so.
Kentucky’s 2011 export shipments totaled $20.1 billion, its highest annual total to date. The state’s largest market was Canada, reaching $6.5 billion and accounting for 32.2 percent of Kentucky’s total exports. Canada was followed by the United Kingdom ($1.5 billion), Mexico ($1.5 billion), Japan ($1.1 billion) and Brazil ($99.7 billion).
For more information on Kentucky’s exports, and the Kentucky Export Initiative, visit www.kyexports.com.