Alaska exported the second highest value of goods and services in its history in 2012 — second only to 2011.
Based on the first nine months of available data for the year state exports are expected to have totaled $4.5 billion in 2012. Below 2011’s record $5 billion and change in exports.
Greg Wolf executive director World Trade Center Alaska spoke during the World Trade Center Alaska’s annual Statewide Economic Forecast Luncheon at the Juneau Arts and Humanities building, Thursday. It was Wolf’s sixth year presenting at the event.
Alaska’s 2013 export market should be similar to 2012, Wolf said. Remaining in the $4.5 to $4.7 billion range.
Exports of goods typically make up around 10 percent of Alaska’s economy. This number does not include the export of services.
Alaska’s export market is still relatively small compared to some states. It ranks 40th among states.
“When you look at it based on population we rank fourth in the nation on a per capita basis,” Wolf said. “Relative to other people living in other states trade is more important to us. It is more likely that our livelihood or our neighbor’s livelihood … is based on trade.”
The export numbers above do not include Alaska’s service sector exports. Wolf said Alaska’s service sector exports could total $1 billion.
“It is a significant and growing part of our economy,” Wolf said.
In addition to $4.5 billion in direct export revenue, Alaska generated another $2 billion of induced revenue from exports, Wolf said.
And those revenues are accompanied by jobs.
Exports directly correlated to 15,000 jobs in Alaska, Wolf said. And they tend to be higher paying jobs, he said.
Alaska has about 300 companies that handle exports from locations in Alaska — a number that is probably under reported, Wolf said. Much of Alaska’s export work is by small- to medium-sized companies. Around three-quarters of all exports are by companies of this size.
“It’s not all just the big guys,” Wolf said.
Where are Alaska’s exports headed?
For the first time in Alaska’s history China became the state’s largest export market in 2011. China took the crown from long-time export leader Japan.
Being the biggest export market is no the end goal for China. The emerging market is moving from a big and important customer to being a partner and investor in projects. Recently CAMC Engineering of China partnered with Chieftain Metals LLC of Toronto, Canada to develop the Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia.
This marks the dominance of exports to Asia, home to Alaska’s top three export markets.
Seafood remains Alaska largest export, with the minerals zinc, lead, gold, silver and others next.
Other than the two black swans during the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s and the 2008 recession, Alaska has enjoyed a steadily growing export economy for two decades, Wolf said. Exports rebounded strongly after the latest slump, he said.
Wolf said Alaska can still branch out to new markets. Singapore is a small but wealthy market with air service to Alaska, Wolf said. Koreans delight in Alaska’s seafood.
“They consider themselves seafood connoisseurs,” Wolf said.
Alaska is in the right place at the right time with the right products.
Alaska sits on the Pacific Rim with the huge and growing markets of China, Korea, Singapore and Japan, Wolf said. Alaska’s Pacific neighbors are some of the fastest growing economies and populations on Earth, he said.
And that puts us in the right time in history.
With economic globalization, modernization has happened rapidly in China and India. This is bringing more and more people to economic centers, Wolf said. By the year 2025, around 400 million Chinese are expected to move to the cities with 200 million more doing the same in India. This migration and growing wealth in these nations means new potential consumers for Alaska, he said.
What does all this new wealth get spent on? Gadgets, Wolf said. Though Alaska does not export gadgets, it exports what gadgets are made of.
“We have what the world needs,” Wolf said. “And it is a world that can increasingly afford it.”
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.