Nicknamed the “Peace Garden State” and the “Roughrider State” located in America’s midwestern and northern regions, North Dakota shipped US$6.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -14.5% drop from 2018 to 2019 but a 27.5% increase since 2016.
North Dakota ranks among America’s 15 smallest exporters 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 2019.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), North Dakota’s exported products represent 11.8% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2019 ($57 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).
Given North Dakota’s population of 762,062 people, its total $6.7 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $8,900 for every resident in the Peace Garden State.
North Dakota’s unemployment rate was 2.2% at February 2020 down from 2.6% as of March 2019, per YCharts.
North Dakota’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in North Dakota global shipments during 2019. 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.
- Crude petroleum oils: US$2.5 billion (36.3% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Light petroleum oils: $2 billion (29.3%)
- Corn: $146 million (2.2%)
- Wheat (excluding durum): $141 million (2.1%)
- Mechanical front-end shovel loaders: $140 million (2.1%)
- Tractors (excluding track-laying): $130 million (1.9%)
- Track-laying tractors: $106 million (1.6%)
- Ethanol (denatured): $92 million (1.4%)
- Saturated acyclic hydrocarbons: $80 million (1.2%)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $67 million (1%)
North Dakota’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (79.1%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Non-durum wheat represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 16.5% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was corn via its 9% gain. North Dakota’s shipments of tractors excluding for track laying posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 8.3%.
The leading decliner among North Dakota’s top 10 export products were mechanical front-end shovel loaders which plunged -45.1% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, North Dakota incurred a $3.3 billion surplus exporting and importing products during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -26.5% year-over-year decline from $4.5 billion in black ink for 2018.
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 2019.
- Platinum scrap: $260 million (7.6% of North Dakota’s total imports)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $132 million (3.8%)
- Integrated circuits (excluding processors/controllers): $128 million (3.7%)
- Vehicles to transport 10 or more people: $120 million (3.5%)
- Air/gas pumps, compressors, fans: $115 million (3.4%)
- Crude petroleum oils: $69 million (2%)
- Urea: $64 million (1.9%)
- Anhydrous ammonia: $63 million (1.8%)
- Internal combustion piston engines: $49 million (1.4%)
- Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $46 million (1.3%)
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 96% worth of the total value of products exported from North Dakota during 2019.
- Canada: $5.9 billion (87.5% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Mexico: $228 million (3.4%)
- Australia: $82 million (1.2%)
- Germany: $58 million (0.9%)
- Brazil: $52 million (0.8%)
- Japan: $37 million (0.6%)
- Dominican Republic: $27 million (0.4%)
- Czech Republic: $27 million (0.4%)
- United Kingdom: $26 million (0.4%)
- Russia: $26 million (0.4%)
North Dakota’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) bought 90.8% 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
Department of Numbers, North Dakota GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on April 13, 2020
FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 13, 2020
GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on April 13, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 13, 2020
State Symbols USA, State Nicknames. Accessed on April 13, 2020
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on April 13, 2020
United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: North Dakota. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Wikipedia, List of North Dakota Companies. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Wikipedia, North Dakota. Accessed on April 13, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Bismarck, United States. Accessed on April 13, 2020
YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on April 13, 2020
Zippia, These are the 100 largest companies in North Dakota. Accessed on April 13, 2020