Oklahoma exports increased 12 percent in the first half of this year, outpacing the national growth rate of 7 percent, and the state's overseas sales might be even higher, according to the head of the state Commerce Department's export division.
“We don't have a port of entry or exit, which does hurt us in a way,” said Erika Lucas, director of the state Commerce Department's global recruitment and trade division. “I do definitely believe Oklahoma exports are underestimated because of that fact.”
Oklahoma-made products also get shipped to other states for assembly, and those other states get credit for exporting the finished products, Lucas said.
“We continue to rank No. 1 in manufacturing job growth in the United States,” she said. “That kind of tells you our export number should be higher than it currently is.”
But the latest numbers from the International Trade Administration, part of the U.S. Commerce Department, are encouraging, Lucas said.
Oklahoma's exports in the January-June period grew to $3.4 billion this year from $3 billion in the same period last year, the International Trade Administration said.
Lucas said the state's export growth is coming in every form, as more Oklahoma companies are shipping more products and services while existing exporters are expanding their offerings and moving into new markets.
“Companies are becoming more aware of the opportunities overseas,” Lucas said. “They understand that we're all in a global economy and therefore they need to act accordingly and they're taking advantage of those overseas markets.”
Marcus Verner, director of U.S. Commercial Service in Oklahoma, attributed the growth to the determination of Oklahoma businesses.
“The primary reason is Oklahoma companies are persistent in wanting to be in the marketplace,” Verner said. “They are finding every opportunity to try and continue to grow.”
The state's export growth came with some new trade partners, topped by 110 percent growth to the United Arab Emirates, 79 percent growth to Argentina and 51 percent growth to Singapore. Oklahoma's top trade partners are Canada and Mexico.
The state's top exported products are items associated with the energy and aerospace sectors, Lucas said. However, she said, medical equipment and services are growing export sectors for the state.
The top merchandise categories that showed growth included machinery, transportation equipment, electronic and fabricated metal products and food, according to the International Trade Administration.
Verner said boosting exports makes for healthier businesses.
“One of the most important aspects of exporting is that it helps firms to diversify their portfolios and buffer changes in the domestic economy, and that's good for business,” Verner said.
At a glance
Top destinations for Oklahoma exports, 2011
Top Oklahoma exports, 2011