ANCHORAGE - Rising mineral prices and a diversifying base of seafood customers helped boost the value of Alaska's exports to a record-high $4 billion, according to figures released last week by Gov. Sarah Palin's office.
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The 12.6-percent increase in 2006 marks the third consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey.
Seafood exports topped the list, with international sales passing $2 billion for the first time.
Europe's burgeoning interest for Alaska seafood fueled much of the growth, administration officials said. Ten years ago, almost all seafood shipped to foreign buyers went to Asian countries. Last year, Asia accounted for 75 percent of the total, while most of the rest was shipped to buyers in Europe, said Patricia Eckert, a Palin trade specialist.
High mineral prices helped to more than double the value of Alaska ore and precious metals shipped to foreign buyers. In all, Alaska mines exported $1.2 billion worth of zinc, copper, gold, silver and other minerals last year, up from $595 million in 2005, according to the report.
Fertilizer exports are third on the list of Alaska's 2006 exports at $163 million, down 40 percent from 2005.
The decrease is linked to diminishing known reserves of Cook Inlet natural gas and increased demand in Alaska for residential and commercial use.