Originally created 03/09/99

Georgia exports up 2 percent



ATLANTA -- Georgia's exports grew 2 percent during 1998 while those for the rest of the country declined 1.04 percent, according to figures Monday from the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

Exports for the year totaled $15 billion, up $295 million.

The increase was fueled by transportation equipment, the state's largest export segment, which grew $379 million or 17 percent over the previous year, an 84 percent jump since 1996.

The next three largest sectors fell. Industrial machinery dropped 9 percent; paper products fell 6 percent, and chemicals slid 1 percent.

"In the face of recent economic uncertainty in many established and emerging markets for Georgia, we are pleased that our overall performance in 1998 still exceeded our exports in 1997," said Rebecca Thompson, spokesman for the state agency.

Georgia rose one spot to 14th among U.S. states in exports, passing Virginia.

Shipments to Canada, the state's biggest customer, increased 7 percent last year. Even Japanese purchasing of Georgia products rose 4 percent, despite a similar decline the year before due to economic weakness throughout Asia.

The United Kingdom's 87 percent increase in buying Georgia goods allowed it to pass Mexico to become the state's third-largest customer.

Mexico still bought 18 percent more in 1998 than the year before.