Alabama exports have climbed nearly 80 percent in the past decade

Alabama exports have climbed nearly 80 percent in the past decade
Primary metals was one of the leading categories of Alabama exports in 2015, like those moving through the Port of Mobile. (Mike Kittrell/Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama exports have grown nearly 80 percent in the last decade, new figures for 2015 reveal.

Despite headwinds in global markets, Alabama exports in 2015 held steady at near-record levels on growing overseas shipments of products such as transportation equipment, primary metals and machinery.

Alabama exports are up nearly 80 percent in the last decade. (contributed)
Alabama exports are up nearly 80 percent in the last decade. (contributed)

Figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that Alabama exports totaled $19.37 billion last year, just below the record of $19.58 billion set in 2012. Last year’s total is a decline of 0.36 percent  from 2014 exports of $19.44 billion.

Alabama exports have grown 25 percent since 2010 and 78 percent since 2005.

“Alabama companies operating in the global economy through exports continue to be one of the state’s most powerful growth engines,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “By trading Alabama-made products overseas, these companies support Alabama communities and create well-paying jobs for citizens across our state.

“We want to continue helping Alabama companies reach new customers around the globe, because their exporting activities pay significant benefits here at home,” he added.

COAL SHIPMENTS SLUMP

Alabama companies exported goods to 188 countries in 2015, with transportation equipment once again the No. 1 category with shipments valued at $9.3 billion, an increase of 7.5 percent from the prior year. Other top export categories were chemicals, iron and steel, machinery and paper.

Foreign shipments of Alabama minerals and ores – primarily coal – declined 38 percent to $705.8 million last year, dragging down the state’s overall export total. In 2011, Alabama mineral exports topped $2.2 billion, and the decrease reflects the mounting difficulties of the global coal industry and sharply reduced demand for the product.

Alabama-made vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, are shipped around the world and have accounted for largest category of exports. (Mercedes-Benz)
Alabama-made vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, are shipped around the world and have accounted for the largest category of exports. (Mercedes-Benz)

“Alabama’s exports remained vital last year in spite of turbulence in the global economy, which included a collapse in oil prices and a slowdown in China,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “Exports of Alabama-made vehicles and parts continue to expand, underscoring the state’s status as a major player in this international industry, while there were also meaningful gains in exports of aerospace parts, machinery and paper.”

While Alabama exports held steady in 2015, U.S. exports overall were down 7.5 percent from the prior year.

The Top 5 markets for Alabama 2015 exports were:

  • Canada: $4.1 billion, down 4.7 percent
  • China: $3.2 billion, up nearly 1 percent
  • Mexico: $2.9 billion, up 24 percent
  • Germany: $2.5 billion, up 15 percent
  • United Kingdom: $610 million, up 2 percent.
Gov. Robert Bentley meets with Takashi Shinozuka, Japan Consul-General, at the Alabama Capitol this month. (Jamie Martin/Governor’s Office)
Gov. Robert Bentley meets with Takashi Shinozuka, Japan Consul-General, at the Alabama Capitol this month. (Jamie Martin/Governor’s Office)

Exports of Alabama-made vehicles climbed 5.8 percent to $7 billion last year, while overseas shipments of motor vehicles jumped 18 percent to $1.2 billion, figures show. Exports of Alabama-made aerospace products and parts rose 16 percent to $868 million.

Other major export categories with gains in 2015 were:

  • Primary metals, $1.6 billion, up 5 percent
  • Machinery, $1.1 billion, up 25 percent
  • Paper, $805 million, up 19 percent
  • Plastics and rubber products, $423 million, up 12 percent.

“The economic benefits of exporting are very clear,” said Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s International Trade Office. “Our focus at the Alabama Department of Commerce has always been to work with small- and medium-sized companies to help them sell their products in new and expanding markets.

“The trade and business development missions we undertake each year are a key component of our international strategy,” she added. “For Alabama companies, the opportunities far outweigh the challenges when you have our agency, along with the Export Alabama Alliance, providing assistance in every nuance of international trade.”

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