Wisconsin Exports Flat in 2018, Import Growth Outpacing U.S.

Wisconsin exports were essentially flat in the first nine months of 2018, even as the state’s imports grew faster than the country as a whole, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data.

The state’s companies exported $17.36 billion in goods and services through the end of September, down 0.1 percent from the same period in 2017. The decrease was among the slowest growth rates in the country, which increased exports 9.1 percent.

Imports into Wisconsin, however, were up 12.3 percent to $22.47 billion, outpacing the overall increase in the U.S. of 9.4 percent.

Beyond tariffs, Wisconsin’s sluggish export numbers are also partially the result of large shipments to Saudi Arabia in 2017. More than $720 million in goods were shipped to the Middle Eastern kingdom through September last year, compared to $142 million this year.

Shipments to Asia are down 10.3 percent, including a decline of 5.5 percent to China and 6.2 percent to Japan.

Despite rising trade tensions through the early part of the year, exports to Canada and Mexico, the two largest destinations for Wisconsin goods, are up 3 and 5.2 percent respectively.