See more of the story

While Minnesota's export growth slowed a bit, it still outpaced the nation in the first three months of the year.

State exports rose 9% in the first quarter of 2023 compared with 7% for the U.S., according to data the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) compiled.

"Minnesota's economy is making a global impact," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "We will continue strengthening the trade partnerships that support our economy, create Minnesota jobs and allow local communities to thrive."

Minnesota trailed the nation in export growth last year when exports jumped 16% to a record high for the state, compared with 18% for the U.S.

Meanwhile, overall export growth is showing some signs of tapering off after seeing big gains in the past two years coming out of the pandemic recession. For example, Minnesota's exports grew between 12% and 28% in each quarter of 2022.

In the first quarter of this year, mineral fuels and oil — primarily to Canada — led growth in state exports. Optical and medical equipment, vehicles and machinery followed.

Minnesota's largest markets of Canada and Mexico saw sizable growth of 14%.

Other large gains included a 34% jump in state exports to Africa — thanks largely to a surge in wheat exports to Ethiopia — as well as a 28% increase to the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as a 15% uptick to the European Union.

However, state exports to Asia fell by 5%, driven largely by a 17% decline to Minnesota's third-largest market of China, where the state sent less electrical equipment and fewer optical and medical products than it has in the past.

Meanwhile, exports to Russia dropped 94% in the first quarter while those to Ukraine surged 175%. Parts for tanks and armored vehicles largely drove the latter, according to DEED.

Last year, Minnesota moved up one spot to No. 21 in a ranking of states with the highest value of exports.

The state's overall economic output in the first quarter, as measured by gross domestic product, will come out at the end of this month. The state has generally seen slower economic growth than the nation as whole in recent years.