Metro Detroit’s exports grew 12 percent from the year prior to hit a record $49.4 billion in 2011, making it the fourth largest metropolitan export market in America, the U.S. Department of Commerce agency said Thursday.
The Detroit-Warren-Livonia area consistently has been a top 10 exporter among the nation’s regions since 2005 — the latest series of information available, according to an International Trade Administration spokeswoman.
“The growth in metro exports shows that even in these challenging economic times, many Michigan companies are working to enhance their competitiveness and bottom line by making new sales abroad,” said Sara Coulter, director of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service in Detroit, in a statement.
Last year’s year-over-year export growth was modest compared with the 55 percent surge to $44 billion in exports that Metro Detroit recorded in 2010 from 2009 — at the bottom of the recession.
The auto industry helped fuel most of the shipments to other countries in 2011. Transportation equipment accounted for nearly two-thirds of all exports at $32.4 billion.
The next biggest sectors were machinery at $4.4 billion, computer and electronic products at $2.9 billion, and electrical equipment, appliances and components at $2 billion.
Mexico and Canada — partners with the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement — were the destinations for 68.5 percent or $34 billion of the exports, according to the federal government.
It was not immediately clear if last year’s export value created a new record for Metro Detroit. The $49.4 billion in exports did eclipse the $49.1 billion the region generated in 2007 before the recession caused Metro Detroit’s exports to plunge to $28.4 billion in 2009.