Nicknamed the “Peace Garden State” and the “Roughrider State” located in America’s midwestern and northern regions, North Dakota shipped US$6.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 16.2% gain from 2017 to 2018 and a 68.3% increase since 2015.
North Dakota is America’s 36th-biggest exporter by state behind front-runners including Texas, California, New York and Washington states. The value of North Dakota’s exports equals 0.4% of United States’ overall exported products for 2018.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), North Dakota’s exported products represent 12.2% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2018 ($55.7 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).
Given North Dakota’s population of 760,077 people, its total $6.8 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $8,900 for every resident in the Peace Garden State.
North Dakota’s unemployment rate was 2.3% at May 2019 down from 2.6% as of March 2018, per YCharts.
North Dakota’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in North Dakota global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from North Dakota.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Light petroleum oils: US$2.3 billion (34.3% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Crude petroleum oils: $1.8 billion (26.7%)
- Front-end shovel loaders: $254 million (3.7%)
- Corn: $134 million (2%)
- Butanes (liquid): $129 million (1.9%)
- Track-laying tractors: $128 million (1.9%)
- Wheat (excluding durum): $124 million (1.8%)
- Large tractors: $120 million (1.8%)
- Saturated acyclic hydrocarbons: $101 million (1.5%)
- Ethanol (denatured): $91 million (1.3%)
North Dakota’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (76.9%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Light petroleum oils were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 105.5% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales was corn via its 94.2% gain.
North Dakota’s shipments of liquid butanes posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 89.7%.
The leading decliner among North Dakota’s top 10 export products was denatured ethanol which retreated -21.6% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, North Dakota incurred a $3.4 billion surplus exporting and importing products during 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 9.3% year-over-year increase from $3.1 billion in black ink for 2017.
Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a state’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same state’s spending on foreign goods or services.
Below are North Dakota’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2018.
- Platinum scrap: $193 million (5.7% of North Dakota’s total imports)
- Crude petroleum oils: $142 million (4.2%)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $122 million (3.6%)
- Internal combustion piston engines: $90 million (2.7%)
- Anhydrous ammonia: $75 million (2.2%)
- Integrated circuits (excluding processors/controllers): $74 million (2.2%)
- Air/gas pumps, compressors, fans: $69 million (2%)
- Liquified propane: $57 million (1.7%)
- Vehicles to transport 10 or more people: $56 million (1.6%)
- Machinery parts for heavy machinery: $55 million (1.6%)
North Dakota has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate North Dakota’s competitive advantages under petroleum-related categories.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchased 93.8% worth of the total value of products exported from North Dakota during 2018.
- Canada: $5.8 billion (85.9% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Mexico: $231 million (3.4%)
- Australia: $147 million (2.2%)
- Germany: $60 million (0.9%)
- United Kingdom: $36 million (0.5%)
- Japan: $36 million (0.5%)
- Dominican Republic: $35 million (0.5%)
- Czech Republic: $34 million (0.5%)
- Russia: $34 million (0.5%)
- Brazil: $32 million (0.5%)
North Dakota’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) bought 89.3% of the overall value of exported goods from the Peace Garden State.
North Dakota Export Companies
Just one North Dakota-based corporation ranks among Fortune 1000 Companies, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Headquartered in the North Dakotan capital city of Bismarck, MDU Resources Group delivers regulated energy, construction materials plus related goods and services to its customers.
According to Zippia, below are examples of other relatively large companies based in North Dakota.
- Titan Machinery (agricultural, construction equipment)
- Border States (electrical supplies, related products)
- RDO Equipment Co. (industrial machinery)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business sells.
North Dakota’s capital is Bismarck, a city nicknamed after Otto von Bismarck–former chancellor of the German Empire.
See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances
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