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July 2004

Maine Exports Set Record in 2003

Portland, ME— Some of Maine's traditional natural resources-based industries have stepped up their exports, making up for the falling fortunes of the state's semiconductor industry.

The shift has helped propel Maine's international trade to a strong performance with the state's exports growing 10.9 percent last year to reach a record $2.2 billion.

That pace of growth is the eighth-fastest in the country, and it has picked up even more this year, although the more recent figures are skewed by the inclusion of the two oil drilling rigs being completed in Portland Harbor and destined for Brazil.

Maine's exports are slightly ahead of neighboring New Hampshire, which sent $1. 86 billion worth of goods overseas in 2002, compared to $1. 97 billion in Maine that year, according to the Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research.

The state's performance is more impressive if the semiconductor numbers are stripped away, said Richard Coyle, the president of the Maine International Trade Center.

Without semiconductors factored in, Coyle said, Maine exports leaped by 37 percent from 1998 to 2003, a time when a strong dollar made U. S. products more expensive abroad.

But for the past six years, while the semiconductor industry has nose-dived, some of Maine's older natural-resources-based industries have stepped up their exports and taken up some of the slack.

Some of the strongest growth has been in natural resource-based products, Coyle said, such as pulp and paper.

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