JUNEAU - Alaska exports totaled $3.3 billion in 2009, the fifth- best year for trade in the state's history, Gov. Sean Parnell announced Thursday.
"Given that Alaskans were competing during a worldwide economic downturn last year, this is a great result," he said. "We know Alaska is on the right track: Each quarter in 2009 saw an improvement over the previous quarter."
First-quarter exports in 2009 were down nearly 30 percent from last year. By the end of 2009, fourth-quarter exports were up 12.3 percent from a year earlier. Overall, Alaska's 2009 exports were 8.1 percent lower than in 2008. Nationally exports declined 17.9 percent. Forty-six other states posted greater decreases in export value than Alaska.
Alaska's exports of minerals, precious metals and forest products increased, while seafood and energy exports declined.
Alaska's zinc and lead ore exports in 2009 rose to $784.7 million, an increase of 33.5 percent over 2008. Red Dog Mine, in northwest Alaska, is the world's largest zinc mine and accounts for more than three-fourths of all U.S. zinc and lead ore exports. In 2009, Alaska's ore exports went to Korea, Canada, Spain, Japan, China, Italy, Finland, Belgium, Australia and Germany.
Precious metals exports, primarily gold, grew 6 percent to $152.6 million, with $146.4 million of gold shipped to Switzerland and $5.1 million of gold to Canada.
Coal exports rose 42.8 percent to $33.1 million. Alaska's exports of liquefied natural gas, which has been shipped to Japan on a regular basis for more than 40 years, was $256.7 million.
Refined petroleum product exports were $38.4 million, down more than 70 percent.
Alaska's 2009 export of forest products grew 5.5 percent to $87.8 million. The Chinese market moved into the top spot, followed by Japan, Korea, Canada and Taiwan.
Alaska's seafood exports were $1.6 billion in 2009, down 9.8 percent. Japan has long been the state's largest seafood export market, followed by China, Korea, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. Markets in Asia accounted for nearly three-quarters of Alaska's seafood exports, while exports to the European Union accounted for 18.8 percent.