Alabama’s Top 10 Exports

Alabama state flag courtesy of

Alabama state flag

Nicknamed “The Heart of Dixie” and “The Cotton State” located in America’s southeastern region, Alabama shipped US$21.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount represents a 6.3% uptick from 2016 to 2017 and an 11.6% gain since 2014.

Alabama is America’s 21st-biggest exporter by state behind front-runners Texas, California, Washington and New York state. The value of Alabama’s exports equals 1.4% of United States’ overall exported products for 2017.

Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Alabama’s exported products represent 12% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2016. The latter real dollar values were expressed in 2009 chained dollars, according to the BEA.

Given Alabama’s population of 4.875 million people, its total $21.8 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $4,500 for every resident in the Cotton State.

Alabama’s unemployment rate was 3.8% as of March 2018 per YCharts.

Alabama’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Alabama global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Alabama.

Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.

  1. Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): US$3.4 billion (15.8% of Alabama’s total exports)
  2. Large automobiles (piston engine): $2.2 billion (10.1%)
  3. Large automobiles (diesel engine): $1.7 billion (7.8%)
  4. Coal (non-agglomerated, bituminous) $1.3 billion (6.1%)
  5. Aircraft including engines, parts: $1.1 billion (5.2%)
  6. Large spark-ignition engines: $555 million (2.6%)
  7. Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $481 million (2.2%)
  8. Mid-sized automobiles (diesel engine): $401 million (1.8%)
  9. Polycarbonates: $359 million (1.7%)
  10. Miscellaneous chemical residues, other products: $354 million (1.6%)

Alabama’s top 10 exports accounted for 54.9% of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.

Coal was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 159.1% from 2016.

In second place for improving export sales was aircraft including engines and other parts which rose 32%.

Alabama’s shipments of large automobiles with piston engines posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 20.9%.

The leading decliner among Alabama top 10 export products were large automobiles with diesel engines which retreated -17.3% year over year.

More Key Facts

Overall, Alabama incurred a -$1.9 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 13.5% year-over-year increase from -$1.7 billion in red ink in 2016.

Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a state’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same state’s spending on foreign goods or services.

Below are Alabama’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2017.

  1. Crude petroleum oils: $2.1 billion (8.8% of Alabama’s total imports)
  2. Large spark-ignition engines: $925 million (3.9%)
  3. Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $839 million (3.5%)
  4. Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $773 million (3.3%)
  5. Motor vehicle transmissions: $634 million (2.7%)
  6. Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $586 million (2.5%)
  7. Seat parts: $576 million (2.4%)
  8. Steering wheels/columns/boxes: $405 million (1.7%)
  9. Turbo-jets: $355 million (1.5%)
  10. Diesel engines: $352 million (1.5%)

Alabama has highly negative net exports in the international trade of crude petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Alabama’s competitive disadvantages under that mineral fuels-related category.


The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase over three-quarters (76.6%) worth of the total value of products exported from Alabama during 2017.

  1. Canada $4.1 billion (19.1% of Alabama’s total exports)
  2. China $3.6 billion (16.7%)
  3. Germany $2.94 billion (13.5%)
  4. Mexico $2.9 billion (13.3%)
  5. Japan $683 million (3.1%)
  6. Belgium $576 million (2.7%)
  7. South Korea $472 million (2.2%)
  8. India $453 million (2.1%)
  9. Brazil $442 million (2%)
  10. France $412 million (1.9%)

Alabama’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) account for almost a third (32.4%) of the overall value of exported goods from the Cotton State.


Alabama Export Companies

Three Alabama-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies in 2017, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Those firms are listed below.

  • Encompass Health Corp (healthcare services)
  • Vulcan Materials Company (crushed stone, gravel, sand)
  • Regions Financial Corp (retail/commercial banking)

Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of products or services that each business offers, some of which are related to Alabama’s international trade transactions.

Alabama’s capital is Montgomery, a city nicknamed “The Gump”, “Cradle of the Confederacy” and “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement”.

See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances

Research Sources:
Department of Numbers, Alabama GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on May 4, 2018, Flags of US States. Accessed on May 4, 2018

Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 4, 2018

GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on May 4, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 4, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 4, 2018

United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on May 4, 2018

United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Alabama. Accessed on May 4, 2018

Wikipedia, Alabama. Accessed on May 4, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Alabama Companies. Accessed on May 4, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montgomery, United States. Accessed on May 4, 2018

YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on May 4, 2018