Nicknamed “The Heart of Dixie” and “The Cotton State” located in America’s southeastern region, Alabama shipped US$21.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -2% dip from 2017 to 2018 but a 10.5% increase since 2015.
Alabama is America’s 23rd-biggest exporter by state behind front-runners Texas, California, New York and Washington state. The value of Alabama’s exports equals 1.3% of United States’ overall exported products for 2018.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Alabama’s exported products represent 9.5% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2018 ($224.7 trillion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).
Given Alabama’s population of 4.888 million people, its total $21.3 billion in 2018 exported goods translates to roughly $4,400 for every resident in the Cotton State.
Alabama’s unemployment rate was 3.8% as of April 2019 per YCharts.
Alabama’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Alabama global shipments during 2018. 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.
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): US$2.8 billion (12.9% of Alabama’s total exports)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $2.1 billion (9.7%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $1.9 billion (9.1%)
- Coal (non-agglomerated, bituminous) $1.6 billion (7.7%)
- Large automobiles (diesel engine): $1.4 billion (6.6%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $493 million (2.3%)
- Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $488 million (2.3%)
- Polycarbonates: $445 million (2.1%)
- Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $373 million (1.7%)
- Miscellaneous chemical goods, residuals: $369 million (1.7%)
Alabama’s top 10 exports represent over half (56.1%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Miscellaneous petroleum oils were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 97.4% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales was aircraft including engines and other parts which gained 80.9%.
Alabama’s shipments of polycarbonates posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 24% increase.
The leading decliner among Alabama top 10 export products were mid-sized automobiles with piston engines which retreated -20.3% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, Alabama incurred a -$4.9 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 164.4% year-over-year increase from -$1.8 billion in red ink in 2017.
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 2018.
- Crude petroleum oils: $2.8 billion (10.6% of Alabama’s total imports)
- Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $1.3 billion (5.1%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $808 million (3.1%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $736 million (2.8%)
- Turbo-jets: $658 million (2.5%)
- Seat parts: $583 million (2.2%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $488 million (1.9%)
- Motor vehicle transmissions: $437 million (1.7%)
- Steering wheels/columns/boxes: $382 million (1.5%)
- Brakes, brake parts: $367 million (1.4%)
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 purchased roughly three-quarters (74.2%) worth of the total value of products exported from Alabama during 2018.
- Canada $4.1 billion (19% of Alabama’s total exports)
- China $3 billion (14.3%)
- Mexico $2.6 billion (12.1%)
- Germany $2.6 billion (11.9%)
- Japan $821 million (3.8%)
- India $692 million (3.2%)
- Brazil $668 million (3.1%)
- South Korea $521 million (2.4%)
- Belgium $504 million (2.4%)
- France $434 million (2%)
Alabama’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) represent almost a third (31.1%) of the overall value of exported goods from the Cotton State.
Alabama Export Companies
Three Alabama-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies, 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
Department of Numbers, Alabama GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on June 12, 2019
FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on June 12, 2019
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 12, 2019
GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on June 12, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 12, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 12, 2019
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on June 12, 2019
United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Alabama. Accessed on June 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Alabama. Accessed on June 12, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Alabama Companies. Accessed on June 12, 2019
Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on June 12, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Montgomery, United States. Accessed on June 12, 2019
YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on June 12, 2019