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British Columbia's exports to Asia have eclipsed sales to the U.S. for the first time, with the province's total exports rising in June by 11 per cent, B.C.'s jobs minister Pat Bell said Friday.

It's a dramatic shift from just three years ago, when the United States was the province's primary customer for its forestry products, industrial goods and energy products.

At that time, more than 70 per cent of B.C. exports travelled to the U.S. But B.C. manufacturers are increasingly shifting focus to Europe and Asia.

"For the first half of the year we've seen a total of $6.9-billion worth of goods flow into the Asia marketplace, that compares to $6.8 billion into the United States," Mr. Bell told reporters after Statistics Canada released new export data.

For the first six months of 2011, B.C.'s international merchandise exports were worth $15.9 billion, compared with $14 billion last year.

"Given the economic turmoil we're seeing globally right now, it's great to see," Mr. Bell said.

Premier Christy Clark is expected to lead a trade mission to China and India in November, part of the government's continued efforts to open new trade and investment opportunities.