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PUBLISHED: 5:30 PM on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Alaska boasts second best year for exports
Export numbers reach $3.9 billion
JUNEAU - The value of Alaska's exports for 2007 reached $3.9 billion, the second best year for exports, announced Gov. Sarah Palin last week.

"This is great news for Alaska, and I commend all of the Alaskans whose hard work benefits our state and its trade and foreign investment," Governor Palin said. "I thank all Alaskans working in the international arena, including the visitor industry, the state's international ports and airports, the schools and technical service companies."

Overall 2007 exports are down 3.8 percent from 2006's record-high $4 billion because of offsets in the export market. For example, zinc and gold exports rose significantly in 2007, while the value of Cook Inlet gas supply exports decreased and affected the value-added exports of liquefied natural gas and fertilizer.

"We are competing in domestic and international markets," Governor Palin said, "and let's remember we prepare best for that competition through a strong educational system and workforce development."

Both exports and foreign direct investment have been important to Alaska for more than six decades. Companies headquartered in Japan, Canada and Europe have invested significantly in the state's natural resources.

High world market prices increased the value of Alaska's zinc and lead ore exports by 8.5 percent to $1.2 billion in 2007, another record for the state. High zinc prices have more than doubled the value of Alaska's ore exports in the past three years and made it the state's second largest export in value after seafood. Alaska accounts for more than three-fourths of all U.S. zinc production. Red Dog Mine, in northwest Alaska, is the world's largest zinc mine. Canada was Alaska's largest ore market in 2007 followed by Korea, China, Japan, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.

The value of Alaska's 2007 energy exports - primarily jet fuel, LNG, and coal - decreased 10.6 percent to $232 million. The value of refined petroleum products - mostly jet fuel - rose 41 percent to $131 million. Jet fuel was exported to China, Canada, Taiwan and Korea. Alaska's LNG exports to Japan were $94 million in 2007, down 39.7 percent. Governor Palin announced an agreement on January 3, 2008, between the State of Alaska and oil industry officials that will help ensure energy supplies and security for Alaska while supporting the requested two-year extension of the federal export license for the LNG plant on the Kenai Peninsula.

The value of Alaska's 2007 coal export was close to $5 million, and the coal was exported to Chile. This is the third year for coal exports to Chile.

The higher price of gold in 2007 and an increase in export volume resulted in a 20.3 percent increase to $132 million for Alaska's 2007 export of precious metals. Switzerland is the major market for Alaska's gold exports.

Constraints on Cook Inlet natural gas availability led to the closure of Agrium's major fertilizer plant in Kenai in December 2007. Before the closure, the plant exported $92 million worth of fertilizer in 2007 to Korea, Mexico, and Chile.

In 2007, the value of Alaska's annual seafood exports was the second highest ever at $1.98 billion, a 1.9 percent decrease from the previous year. Alaska seafood exports to Japan, still the state's largest seafood export market, decreased 18.9 percent to $588 million, while exports to China increased 27.1 percent to $411 million. Exports to Korea decreased 14 percent to $306 million. The ratio of total value to total volume for seafood exports increased in 2007 over 2006.

The relatively large increase in seafood export to China is due to the country's growing role in reprocessing for re-export. Alaska seafood is also available in the retail market in more than a dozen cities in China. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has marketing representatives based in Japan, China and the European Union - all markets that have generated significant increases in the state's seafood exports in the past decade. Since the beginning of the decade, the value of the state's seafood exports has nearly doubled. Improvements in processing technology and quality assurance, an increase in the number of product forms, and strong promotional efforts by the State of Alaska have increased the value of the harvest.

"We are continuing to push hard both at home and in international markets so we can receive the highest possible value for our great fish," Governor Palin said. "We are educating key markets about our strong commitment to managing fisheries well and to producing the best seafood possible. As our state's constitution dictates, we are committed to sustainability of our precious fisheries."

The state's 2007 seafood exports to Europe accounted for nearly one quarter of the value of Alaska's seafood exports. Ten years ago, European markets accounted for less than 6 percent. The increased demand in Europe for Alaska seafood is linked to the value those markets place on healthy eating, food traceability, sustainability of fisheries and the strength of the Euro.

The value of Alaska's 2007 export of forest products was $86 million, down 23.1 percent. The majority of exports are to Japan, Korea, and China. The decline in Alaska's forest products exports reflects the fact that resources on most privately held lands are reaching the end of their first rotation. Additionally, changes in management direction of national forest lands have reduced available inventory at the same time that competition in world markets for some segments of the forest products industry is strong.

The source of the Alaska export numbers is the U.S. Census Bureau. The numbers do not reflect Alaska resources first transported to and warehoused in other U.S. states before export. For more information, contact trade specialist Patricia Eckert at (907) 269-7450.


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