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W.Va. exports set new record for third year in a row

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia exports surged to a new record for the third year in a row, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Monday.

The amount of state exports grew by more than 25 percent to $11.3 billion in 2012, up from $9 billion the year before.

That growth rate far outstripped the 4.6 percent overall growth rate for U.S. exports last year.

State coal exports -- by far the state's largest category of exports -- increased 40 percent last year to $7.4 billion, up $2.1 billion from 2011.

State coal exports make up 49 percent of total U.S. coal exports last year.

The top foreign markets for West Virginia coal included the Netherlands, which imported $801 million in state coal, followed by Italy at $698 million, India at $689 million, China at $567 million, Brazil at $558 million, South Korea at $520 million, United Kingdom at $457 million, Turkey at $403 million, Japan at $395 million and France at $383 million.

China and Japan also significantly increased their level of West Virginia coal imports over 2011 levels.

Japan saw imports grew over 1,200 percent, from $29 million in 2011 to $395 million in 2012. China's level of imports grew by nearly $500 million over the year, increasing from $93 million in 2011. 

China is now the fourth-largest foreign consumer of West Virginia coal.

"Exports are a valuable contributor to our state's economic growth and stability," Tomblin said in a statement.

"While coal continues to be our traditional strength, our top exports also included manufactured products such as plastics, chemicals, machinery and components for medical, automotive and aerospace applications," he said.

Manufacturing exports also set a new record of $3.67 billion last year, up from the previous record of $3.5 billion set the year before.

Plastics, the state's second largest industry, hit the $1 billion export level for the second year in a row.

Machinery, at $834 million, was the state's second-largest non-coal export sector, followed by chemicals at $426 million, aerospace components at $283 million, medical devices and products at $271 million, automotive components at $168 million, aluminum at $119 million, wood products at $90 million, electrical machinery at $75 million and rubber products at $64 million.

Canada was by far the state's biggest importer of non-coal goods, taking in $1.3 billion worth of state exports in 2012. China came in second at $370 million, followed by Japan at $352 million, Belgium at $204 million, Germany at $173 million, Mexico at $152 million, the  Netherlands at $127 million, Brazil at $124 million, South Korea at $86 million and the United Kingdom at $83 million.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.



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