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Tomblin announces record exports driven by coal

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West Virginia's exports were up in 2012 – largely driven by a large increase in coal exports.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced the record level of exports, a growth of more than $2 billion, Monday morning. The statistics came from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which reported West Virginia exported to 136 countries in 2012, swelling form $9 billion to $11.3 billion in exports.

"Last year, West Virginia's exports grew by 25 percent, surpassing the national growth rate of 4.6 percent," Tomblin said. "Exports are a valuable contributor to our state's economic growth and stability. While coal continues to be our traditional strength, our top exports also included manufactured products such as plastics, chemicals, machinery and components for medical, automotive and aerospace applications."

Coal exports grew by about 40 percent, increasing from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in 2012.

According to the news release from Tomblin's office, the top markets for coal with the largest growth were Japan and China. Coal sent to Japan went from $29 million in 2011 to $395 million in 2012. China's purchases of West Virginia coal went from $83 million in 2011 to $567 million in 2012.

The second largest product sector was plastics, reaching more than $1 billion for the second year in a row. Manufacturing exports also increased.

Other major exporting sectors in West Virginia include machinery, chemicals, aerospace components and medical devices.