August 29, 2014

State exports going strong

Wisconsin companies are taking advantage of export opportunities, while the state’s economic development group is encouraging more businesses to get involved. WEDC, partnering with the manufacturing group WMEP, is showcasing a program to train companies on how to make money in foreign markets.

A presentation in Madison this week came just after state officials announced strong export sales including a growth in total exports by 7.9 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2012, with specific increases in the exports of industrial machinery, agricultural products, vehicles and medical and scientific instruments.

Lora Klenke, vice president of International Business Development at WEDC, told the group that the strongest growth normally takes place in the 3rd and 4th quarter, meaning the state is on target to surpass last year’s export figures.

Where these goods are being sent is also in flux. China was not even in the top 10 for Wisconsin exports in 2000, but the Asian nation has risen to number three: “I bet a couple of years from years from now, they (China) probably will overtake Mexico as our second largest export destination,” Klenke said.

Wisconsin’s business presence in Mexico is declining because of public safety issues, domestic inflation on their currency, and new regulatory hurdles.

With a growing middle class tied to greater consumer demand, Klenke highlighted the Asia-Pacific area including India, China, and Southeast Asia. She said in 2009, 29 percent of the world’s middle class lived in the Asia-Pacific region, by 2020 that number will jump to 54 percent.

Governor Scott Walker is touting the strong export numbers. “This data is encouraging and signals products made by Wisconsin’s private sector economy are valued all across the world,” Walker said in his weekly radio address.

AUDIO: Brian Moon reports (1:17)