According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Alaska set an all-time record of $5.2 billion in direct international exports in 2011. This is up from a previous record year of $4.2 billion in 2010. It does not necessarily mean production levels have increased. The prices of Alaska's natural resources have been strong. Global demand has been rising due to increased populations and standards of living around the world.
Sales of a variety of seafood products totaled $2.4 billion last year. This accounted for 47% of all direct international exports from Alaska last year. This does not account for a large amount of seafood that gets shipped to other U.S. states for further processing and ultimately gets shipped overseas.
Mineral exports of lead, zinc and copper were valued at $1.6 billion, or 31% of all exports. Additionally, there were sales of precious metals and gold worth $407 million that accounted for 8% of Alaska exports.
Energy in the form of liquified natural gas, coal and other petroleum based by-products added $355 million or 7% of exports. Forest products were 2% of sales and represented $118 million of international exports.
Asia is still our principal trade market accounting for nearly two thirds of all sales. For the first time since the statistics have been tracked, Japan is no longer our number one trade partner. After a decade of growth, China now accounts for 28% of all direct international exports from Alaska. Much of this $1.5 billion in trade is raw inputs for the emerging market in China. Some of the seafood products are further processed in China and resold into other parts of Asia.
Japan was in second position with 21% of sales, followed by South Korea at 12% and Canada at 11%. A variety of European countries purchase 1% to 5% each of Alaska's exports, primarily fresh seafood and metals for smelting.
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