Friday, April 2, 2010 | 3 a.m.
Nevada’s exports were down in January compared with a year ago, but economic development officials said the state has been more resilient than the rest of the country in shipping its goods abroad during the recession.
In January, exports fell 17 percent compared with January 2009, said Al Di Stefano, director of global business development for the Nevada Economic Development Commission.
Di Stefano, who returned last weekend from a trip to China, said Nevada’s exports during the first quarter were dragged down by gold exports dropping 26 percent because of falling demand, he said.
If gold exports are taken out of the mix, exports rose 6.6 percent, Di Stefano said. That reveals how exports from base industries such as manufactured goods are growing again, he added.
That includes electricity machinery increasing 9 percent, furniture increasing 9 percent and toys and games, including slot machines, increasing 33 percent, he said.
“This is good news because it shows the rest of the businesses in terms of exporting are starting to recover,” Di Stefano said.
During the first quarter, Nevada ranked 34th of all states in export value, Di Stefano said.
Overall, the nation’s exports rose 18 percent in the first quarter, he said.
The total exports for January were $537 million, down from $646 million in January 2009.
Nevada fared well in exports in 2009 compared with the rest of the nation. The state’s exports fell 7.3 percent compared with the entire U.S. export market, which fell 19 percent, Di Stefano said.
Nevada was ranked second in the nation in terms of states having the smallest decrease in 2009, Di Stefano said. Only Utah, which fell 0.5 percent, had a smaller decline in exports.
Exports fell in 2009 because of declines in gold and nonprecious metal ores, Di Stefano said. In manufacturing exports, however, three of the top nine sectors showed increases of 11 percent to 78 percent, he said.
“The reasons that Nevada was more resilient than other states in the export decrease was we are shipping to many of the countries who have rapidly growing economies,” Di Stefano said. “And we are exporting products that these countries need and cannot afford to cut back too much on their imports.”
Nevada had $5.67 billion in exports in 2009 compared with $6.11 billion in 2008. The state had $5.71 billion in exports in 2007.
In 2009, precious stones and metals totaled $3 billion. That was followed by ores, $509 million; electrical machinery, $479 million; toys and games (which includes slot machines) and sports equipment, $427 million; industrial machinery and computers, $337 million; optical, photo and medical equipment, $262 million; and aircraft and spacecraft parts, $103 million.
Switzerland was the No. 1 trading partner in 2009 with $2.8 billion in exports, primarily because of the gold shipments.
Canada was second with $795 million followed by Mexico with $218 million. China was fourth at $210 million and Japan was fifth with $198 million.
Di Stefano said he attended a trade show in Shanghai geared for the food processing industry to obtain raw materials from U.S. and European companies. China is asking its companies to look to outside raw materials because of deaths caused by its own food processing materials, he said.
Nevada has several companies that export proteins and other products used in food processing, he said. That category was the sixth largest export to China in 2009 at $2.1 million. It was zero in 2007, he said.