You wouldn't know Florida is in a recession based on the volume of the state's foreign trade. It will be another record-breaking year for Florida exports. Through August, they exceed last year's total by $7-billion, a gain of 24 percent. And the year isn't over. Here are a few details of this little-heralded success story:
FERTILIZING INDIA: Two years ago India was Florida's 19th-biggest export destination. This year the country has moved up in rank to sixth. The reason? India's insatiable hunger for phosphates to grow grain. One main beneficiary has been the Mosaic Co., which runs phosphate mines east of Tampa. January through August 2007, Florida exported $400-million worth of goods to India. Through August this year, India had already imported $1.5-billion worth of Florida stuff.
SCRAPPY EXPORTS: Florida's export of scrap metal — including iron and steel — has skyrocketed in value as those commodities fetch higher prices. The astounding growth has been in precious metals. So far this year, exports have passed $1-billion, four times the pace of last year's $242-million. Switzerland has absorbed most of it. The landlocked European nation was Florida's 35th-largest importer in 2006. It has moved up to seventh place this year.
LAND OF LINCOLN LOSES: With Florida prepared to send $55-billion worth of goods abroad this year — up from $44-billion in 2007 — the state has passed Illinois to become the nation's fifth-biggest exporting state. In the past two years, the Sunshine State passed not just Illinois, but Ohio and Michigan. Small- and mid-sized companies do most of the international trading in Florida. Sixty-one percent of export volume comes from such companies, compared with 29 percent in the rest of the United States.
FLYING HIGH TO RIO: Brazil solidified its position as Florida's top export destination, taking in $3.4-billion worth of goods so far this year, a jump of 41 percent. It's probably no coincidence that Florida exports of jet and other airplane engines have risen 45 percent. Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft giant, ships aircraft parts back to its home country from its operations in Fort Lauderdale.