Free trade agreements and technological advances have cost the United States manufacturing jobs in recent decades, but those trends also are making the world smaller, creating new job opportunities at some employers in Indiana’s Elkhart-Goshen metro area over the past seven years, according to new export statistics released this week.

The Elkhart Truth reported that transportation equipment manufacturing, which includes recreational vehicles and components, led the way, comprising 73% of all exports from the county in 2013. More than 80% of all RVs are made in the Elkhart area, and about 20% of U.S.-made RVs are exported to Canada.

Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc., the world’s largest RV maker, has figures in line with that industry trend.

“International sales have been an important growth avenue for Thor throughout its history, particularly given that we generate significant sales to Canada,” said Thor President and CEO Bob Martin. “We plan to continue evaluating international opportunities in developed and emerging markets to supplement our overall growth plans for our core RV business.”

Elkhart-based Lippert Components Inc. this week announced a deal with British firm E&P Hydraulics to become its exclusive distributor in Europe. E&P is showcasing Lippert’s RV products for the first time this week at the Caravan Salon 2014 Show in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“We believe that building relationships like this one will help us reach customers and find success in Europe,” said Lippert CEO Jason Lippert.

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