Wisconsin exports were essentially flat in the first nine months of 2018, even as the state’s imports grew faster than the country as a whole, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data.

The state’s companies exported $17.36 billion in goods and services through the end of September, down 0.1 percent from the same period in 2017. The decrease was among the slowest growth rates in the country, which increased exports 9.1 percent.

Imports into Wisconsin, however, were up 12.3 percent to $22.47 billion, outpacing the overall increase in the U.S. of 9.4 percent.

The new trade data comes after many manufacturers in the region have complained that increasing tariffs from the Trump administration – first on steel and aluminum and then on Chinese goods – and the retaliatory actions by other countries have cut into their profitability and made it difficult to do business. It’s unclear how much the trade war limited exports, but a recent report from Americans for Free Trade estimated the actions cost Wisconsin companies $54 million over the summer.

Read more in BizTimes Milwaukee.