Exports of U.S.-made construction machinery showed gains for the first quarter of 2003 after closing out last year with double-digit declines. Manufacturers shipped $1.65 billion worth of equipment to global markets from January to March 2003, a gain of 3.9% over the previous quarter and an increase of 5.1% compared with the same quarter last year, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The AEM international trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Department data with other sources into a quarterly export trends report. "While first-quarter export totals are encouraging overall, we still have a long way to go to regain the momentum of a few years ago," said Arnold Huerta, AEM's International marketing manager in Latin America. Exports to Canada remained strong, with first-quarter purchases of $587 million, a 12.2% gain over the previous quarter and a 42.3% gain over the same time period last year. First-quarter 2003 exports to Europe of $331 million were 13.2% more than exports the previous quarter but 4.7% lower than first-quarter 2002 shipments. Exports to Asia declined, following overall growth for 2002. Asia took delivery of $247 million in construction equipment, a 9.9% drop over the previous quarter and a decline of 9.3% compared with the same quarter last year.