High-tech exports drop 3% in N.C., nationwide

High-tech exports from North Carolina fell last year, reflecting a national trend, according to a report released this week.

Companies in the state shipped $3.3 billion worth of technology goods to foreign countries in 2007, according to data from AeA, the nation's largest technology trade association. That was 3 percent lower than a revised 2006 total of $3.4 billion.

The state's top technology export sectors are communications equipment, electronic components and semiconductors.

Nationally, the dip in high-tech exports was similar. Total high-tech exports were $214billion in 2007, according to the report, 3 percent less than a year before.

A number of factors could have contributed to the decline, including lower values of the products shipped, not just fewer products. But the trade association used the decline to call on Washington to do more to ensure that foreign markets stay open.

“Our trade partners need to uphold their side of the bargain by protecting intellectual property, lowering tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade,” Rob Mulligan, AeA's senior vice president for international matters, said in a statement.

Exports are getting more attention these days because they are a bright spot amid otherwise lackluster economic news. The weak dollar has made it easier for U.S. companies to attract buyers elsewhere.

The report said 29 states that AeA reviewed had increases in tech-related exports, with Virginia, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey and Utah logging the most growth.

Other facts about North Carolina's high-tech exports:

11,700 jobs in the state are supported by tech-related exports.

14 percent of N.C. exports are technology products.

The leading destinations for the state's high-tech goods are Canada, which accounts for $776 million, and China, which accounts for $401 million.