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Exports by Wisconsin companies fell last year for the first time in at least a decade as global economic turmoil curbed demand for U.S. goods.
Wisconsin exports totaled $10.7 billion in 1998, a 4.8 percent drop from the year before, according to figures released by the state Department of Commerce (DOC). It marks the first year of declining shipments since the state began using its current export tracking system in 1988.
"On the one hand, we're not happy to see a drop in exports, but I think it could have been worse," said Mary Regel, administrator of DOC's international trade and export division.
Economic turmoil in Asia took a toll on trade with countries such as Japan, the state's second-largest trading partner. Wisconsin firms exported $738 million in goods to Japan, a 5.7 percent drop from 1997
Elsewhere in the Pacific Rim, shipments to Hung Kong felt 16.8 percent; to Taiwan, 19.3 percent; to China, 25.9 …