North Dakota’s biggest export in 2020 were light petroleum oils accounting for 33.8% of the state’s aggregated exports revenue. In addition to those light oils, the state’s other top 3 exports were crude petroleum oils and tractors representing a combined 64.3% of the state’s total. Those commodities suggest a relatively concentrated range of exported goods.
North Dakota ranks among America’s 15 smallest exporters by state lagging front-runners including Texas, California, New York and Louisiana. The value of North Dakota’s exports equals 0.4% of United States’ overall exported products for 2020.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), North Dakota’s exported products represent 9.6% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2020 ($54 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics). That percentage compares with 11.8% for 2019.
Given North Dakota’s population of 773,074 people, its total $5.2 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $6,700 for every resident in the Peace Garden State.
North Dakota’s unemployment rate was 4.4% at March 2021, down from 87% in April 2020 per YCharts.
North Dakota’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in North Dakota global shipments during 2020. 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$1.8 billion (33.8% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Crude petroleum oils: $1.5 billion (28.1%)
- Most tractors: $122 million (2.4%)
- Mechanical front-end shovel loaders: $113 million (2.2%)
- Corn: $103 million (2%)
- Ethanol (denatured): $86 million (1.7%)
- Wheat (excluding durum): $80 million (1.5%)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $68 million (1.3%)
- Butanes (liquid): $66 million (1.3%)
- Track-laying tractors: $64 million (1.2%)
North Dakota’s top 10 exports accounted for about three-quarters (75.5%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Only 2 among the top 10 export categories increased from 2019 to 2020 namely liquid butane (up 100%) and low erucic acid colza oilseed or rapeseed (up 1.5%).
The leading decliners among North Dakota’s top 10 export products year over year were crude petroleum oils (down -44.4%), non-durum wheat (down -43.3%), track-laying tractors (down -39.6%) and corn (down -29.5%).
More Key Facts
North Dakota posted an overall $2.3 billion surplus exporting and importing products during 2020. That dollar amount reflects a -34.4% year-over-year decline from $3.6 billion in black ink for 2019.
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 2020.
- Platinum scrap: $261 million (9.1% of North Dakota’s total imports)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $134 million (4.7%)
- Engine and motor parts: $88 million (3.1%)
- Vehicles to transport 10 or more people: $86 million (3%)
- Urea: $62 million (2.2%)
- Anhydrous ammonia: $58 million (2%)
- Air/gas pumps, compressors, fans: $58 million (2%)
- Integrated circuits (excluding processors/controllers): $50 million (1.8%)
- Disc harrows: $39 million (1.4%)
- Office machine parts and accessories: $36 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 95.5% worth of the total value of products exported from North Dakota during 2020.
- Canada: $4.4 billion (84.6% of North Dakota’s total exports)
- Mexico: $253 million (4.9%)
- Australia: $118 million (2.3%)
- Germany: $61 million (1.2%)
- Japan: $36 million (0.7%)
- Brazil: $28 million (0.5%)
- China: $22 million (0.4%)
- United Kingdom: $17 million (0.3%)
- Czech Republic: $17 million (0.3%)
- Dominican Republic: $14 million (0.3%)
North Dakota’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) bought 89.5% 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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