Nimble exporters keep state in lead

Nevada's exporters are the most nimble in the nation.

A study by a researcher at Ball State University in Indiana finds that exporters in Nevada have been quick to shift their focus to newly emerging markets for U.S. products, and they also have led the nation in the speed in which they've moved into exporting products that experience rising demand from foreign buyers.

It's no accident that the state's exports have shifted quickly, says Alan DiStefano, director of global business development for the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

More than a decade ago, the state agency began identifying potential growth markets for exports from Nevada, and began targeting those nations for trade missions and locations for independent trade representatives.

The upshot: Exports from Nevada companies to mainland China grew to nearly $600 million in 2010 from $62.1 million in 2001. Exports to India grew by 737 percent. Exports to Brazil grew by 441 percent. Russia was a $12.4 million market for Nevada exporters in 2010 compared with $2.7 million a decade earlier.

In total, exports from Nevada to the so-called "BRIC" countries grew by more than 800 percent from 2001 through 2010.

In another way of measuring the shift, about 40 percent of the state's exports in 2000 went to emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East while 60 percent went to traditional markets in Europe and Canada. Today, the percentages have flipped, and nearly 60 percent of the state's growing volume of exports goes to emerging markets.

"If you pick the right countries and put money behind it, it pays off," says DiStefano.

The state exporters also have sharply increased the business they're doing in Mexico, Japan and Australia.

(In recent analysis of exports from Nevada, researchers have stripped out exports of gold to Switzerland by far the state's largest export, and one that's grown rapidly in dollar terms as gold prices soared in recent years.)

The state's exporters also got high marks from the Ball State study for their ability to shift into high-demand products such as electrical machinery, medical equipment and aviation components.

The state ranked first in its adaptability to deliver products that are in growing demand, said Nalitra Thaiprasert, a research economist in the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research. Thaiprasert developed the rankings from 2009 data.

A newly released study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, finds Nevada ranks first among the states in growth of exports and also ranks first in export intensity growth a measurement of the value of exports as a share of the state's total economy.

Nevada has been a national leader in export growth over the past decade, and remains strong in this year's performance measures," says the study prepared by Praxis Strategy Group of Grand Forks, N.D., and author Joel Kotkin.

That strength in exports, the study says, results from Nevada's network of independent trade representatives in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Germany, Brazil and Italy. Also important, the study finds, are missions that bring foreign buyers to Nevada to meet with potential sellers of the merchandise and a network of organizations that support and train exporting companies.


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