Georgia merchandise exports increased by $600 million in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, according to figures released Aug. 17 by the International Trade Administration, a bureau of the U.S. Commerce Department.

The increase from $17 to $17.6 billion, a 4 percent jump, included marked increases to Australia, up 34 percent; China, 13 percent; Japan, 11 percent; Mexico, 11 percent and the United Kingdom, 7 percent.

Transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, paper and food were the primary export categories for the period.

Donald Nay, director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Atlanta, told GlobalAtlanta that the jump in exports to Australia could be explained by the heightened activity in the western part of the country due to increased exploitation of natural gas.

It’s “…not surprising to me that we continue to see significant export growth to Australia,” he said. “Since the Australia U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 2005, U.S. exports to Australia have increased well over 50 percent.”

“Doing a quick drill-down on some of the areas where see a jump in Georgia exports in this data, we see a jump in transportation equipment for example,” he added.  “This fits in with the fact that the Australia economy is boosted by the commodity sectors, including mining, where capital projects are booming as Australian companies try to meet the significant demand coming from Asia—China in particular.”  

Mr. Nay said that the export figures generally showed a positive trend, but added that “many more firms have yet to tap their export potential.”

“Only a small fraction of all U.S. companies export, and of those that do, 58 percent sell to only one foreign market,” he said. “There’s plenty of room to grow more exports and our office can assist in your efforts.”

Georgia firms seeking to expand their exports have multiple resources to help them, he added, including the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the University of Georgia SBDC International Trade Center, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for International Business Education and Research.

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