Arkansas Exports See Revenue Rise for Most Products in 2010

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 12:00 am  

For the first three quarters of the year, most Arkansas export products sold better than they did during the same period in 2009.

While the state's international trade declined 1.25 percent to $3.7 billion in the first nine months of 2010 compared with 2009, the drop was tied mainly to the aircraft and spacecraft industry, which was Arkansas' top export item in 2009, according to a report from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

(For a list of the Largest Arkasnas Exports click here.)

The value of aircraft and spacecraft exports from Arkansas tumbled 71 percent to $325 million in 2010 compared with the same period in 2009, the commission's report said.

"That's purely an effect of the global economy," said Dan Hendrix, president and CEO of the Arkansas World Trade Center.

He said aircraft companies in Arkansas produce civilian and private business jets, which have seen sales fall because companies have slashed their spending.

But he said export sales were improving for most items. And it's possible that the value of Arkansas' exports could surpass the total in 2009 with a strong fourth quarter, which has typically been good for exporters, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission said.

Also, free-trade agreements are being negotiated with South Korea, Panama and Columbia that should help Arkansas exporters down the road.

"There are still some concessions on both sides yet to be completed," Hendrix said. But deals could be reached by the first of the year, he said. After trade agreements have been signed, Arkansas' exports to those countries with new trade agreements have jumped at least 70 percent, he said.

President Barack Obama also gave exporters a boost in March when he created the National Export Initiative, which has a goal of doubling exports during the next five years by working to remove trade barriers.

"As the U.S. government continues to find ways to double exports in the next five years, then that will certainly impact Arkansas companies and agriculture," Hendrix said.

Cereals were Arkansas' second-largest export item in the first nine months of this year with a value of $352.4 million, up 4.61 percent from the same period in 2009.



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