International imports into Wisconsin increased nearly 22% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago while the state’s exports are up around 5.4%, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Comparisons to data from early 2020 are complicated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but both exports and imports for Q1 are also up in comparison to 2019 and 2018.
Wisconsin imported about $7.63 billion in goods during the first quarter, including more than $3 billion in March. In 2020, the state’s imports totaled $6.26 billion in the first quarter and $2.22 billion for March. First quarter exports totaled $6.83 billion in 2019 amid rising trade tensions and tariffs and $7.19 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
Imports from China alone are up 57% to nearly $1.7 billion for the first quarter. Imports for March of nearly $604 million were more than double the roughly $289 million in imports for March of 2020.
Imports from the rest of Asia are also up about 12% for the year compared to 2020, likely partially the result of the pandemic and also the shift of sourcing away from China. The rest of Asia accounted for almost 21% of Wisconsin’s imports, up from around 17% on average in 2017 through 2019.
On the export side, the state’s companies shipped $5.7 billion goods for the first quarter, including $2.06 billion in March, a 1% increase from 2020 but a slight decrease from 2019 and 2018. Exports for the quarter were up 5.1% from 2019 levels and 4.4% from 2018.
Exports to Canada, the largest destination for Wisconsin goods, are up 11% year-over-year for the quarter and 1.5% compared to 2018 levels.
A similar pattern exists in exports to Europe, which are up almost 7% year-over-year and 1.7% compared to 2018.
Two other major destinations show divergent patterns. Exports to Mexico are up 3.7% year-over-year but are down 6.4% from 2018 levels. Exports to China, on the other hand, are up 8.9% year-over-year and 13.4% from 2018 levels.