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Alabama exports approach record total in 2013, with autos leading way

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Powered by rising overseas shipments of vehicles and parts, Alabama exports held steady in 2013 with a total of $19.3 billion, just shy of the state’s all-time record, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Alabama companies shipped a wide range of products from many different industry sectors to nearly 200 countries across the globe last year. The total value of Alabama exports in 2013 dipped 1 percent from the record high of $19.6 billion set in 2012. Alabama exports have surged 57 percent since 2009.

Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Alabama companies continue to succeed on the exporting front, despite sluggish economies in many parts of the world.

“Our department along with the members of the Export Alabama Alliance have been concentrating on helping small and medium companies find new markets,” Canfield said.  “Growing our companies through exports has so much potential to create jobs.  We’re still seeing strong growth with our major trading partners and expect that trend to continue, which will mean more exports and therefore more jobs.”

Vehicles and parts remained Alabama’s No. 1 export category in 2013, a spot the segment has held since 1998, when its overseas sales totaled slightly more than $1 billion. In 2013, vehicles and parts exported from Alabama factories went to more than 100 countries and topped $7.1 billion in value. That’s a growth rate of 604 percent in the value over that time frame, reflecting what Business Facilities magazine called the state’s status as a “rising automotive powerhouse.”

During 2013, Alabama’s top five exports were:

  • Transportation equipment ($8.3 billion, with 8.6 percent growth)
  • Chemicals ($2.5 billion, with a decrease of 3 percent)
  • Primary metal manufacturing ($1.5 billion, with 3.9 percent growth)
  • Minerals and ores ($1.4 billion, with a decrease of 21.7 percent)
  • Machinery ($879 million, with a decrease of 15 percent)

The decline in the minerals and ores sector last year is a reflection of the downturn in the world’s coal market; historically, coal has been a strong export sector for Alabama.

Alabama’s top five export markets in 2013 were:

  • Canada ($4.3 billion, with 8 percent growth)
  • China ($2.5 billion, with 3.6 percent growth)
  • Germany ($2.2 billion, with a decrease of 12 percent)
  • Mexico ($2.2 billion, with 9 percent growth)
  • United Kingdom ($693 million, with 1 percent growth)

The year saw China become the state’s second largest export destination for products.  Alabama’s top exports to China included vehicles, plastics, chemicals and wood pulp.

Exports from Alabama to the 20 trade agreement countries increased almost 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 to $8.6 billion, comprising 44 percent of Alabama’s total exports. These overseas markets are growing stronger for Alabama goods and services due to reduced tariffs, which favor the state’s exporters.

Overall growth for U.S. exports totaled 2 percent from 2012 to 2013. Alabama ranked No. 23 among the states for dollar value of exports in 2013.

RELATED CONTENT: Rising exports of Alabama-made goods expand state’s role in global economy

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