Alabama ranks among America’s 25 biggest exporters by state behind front-runners including Texas, California, New York and Washington state. The value of Alabama’s exports equals 1.2% of United States’ overall exported products for 2020.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Alabama’s exported products represent 7.6% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product ($224.9 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).
Given Alabama’s population of 4.922 million people, its total $17.1 billion in 2020 exported goods translates to roughly $3,500 for every resident in the Cotton State.
Alabama’s unemployment rate was 4% in February 2021, up from 2.7% as of December 2019 per YCharts.
Alabama’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Alabama global shipments during 2020. 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$2.9 billion (16.7% of Alabama’s total exports)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $1.3 billion (7.8%)
- Large automobiles (diesel engine): $1 billion (6%)
- Coal (non-agglomerated, bituminous) $954 million (5.6%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $705 million (4.1%)
- Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $424 million (2.5%)
- Mid-sized automobiles (diesel engine): $387 million (2.3%)
- Polycarbonates: $381 million (2.2%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $381 million (2.2%)
- Kraft paper, paperboard: $359 million (2.1%)
Alabama’s top 10 exports represent over half (51.5%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Kraft paper and paperboard represents the leading growth product among the top 10 export categories, up by 3.5% from 2019 to 2020. The only other gainer was coniferous chemical woodpulp (up 0.5%).
The leading decliners among Alabama top 10 export products were mid-sized automobiles with diesel engines which retreated -53.3% year over year, large automobiles with piston engines (down -48.2%), aircraft including engines and other parts (down -39.3%), large automobiles with diesel engines (down -32.5%) and non-agglomerated bituminous coal (down -29.7%).
More Key Facts
Overall, Alabama incurred a -$8.4 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 9.9% year-over-year expansion from -$7.6 billion in red ink in 2019.
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 2020.
- Crude petroleum oils: $1.4 billion (5.6% of Alabama’s total imports)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $908 million (3.6%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $695 million (2.7%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $474 million (1.9%)
- Motor vehicle transmissions: $470 million (1.8%)
- Wirings (vehicle, aircraft): $461 million (1.8%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $460 million (1.8%)
- Turbo-jets: $422 million (1.7%)
- Steering wheels/columns/boxes: $420 million (1.6%)
- Brakes, brake parts: $408 million (1.6%)
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 well over three-quarters (75%) worth of the total value of products exported from Alabama during 2020.
- China $3.1 billion (18.1% of Alabama’s total exports)
- Canada $2.9 billion (17%)
- Germany $2.2 billion (13%)
- Mexico $1.8 billion (10.8%)
- Japan $702 million (4.1%)
- South Korea $626 million (3.7%)
- Brazil $410 million (2.4%)
- India $381 million (2.2%)
- Belgium $362 million (2.1%)
- United Kingdom $281 million (1.6%)
Alabama’s top trade partners in Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, India) represent almost a third (28.1%) of the overall value of exported goods from the Cotton State, trailed by major partners in North America (27.8%) and Europe (16.7%).
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
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FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on March 28, 2021
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 28, 2021
GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2017 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on March 28, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 28, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 28, 2021
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on March 28, 2021
United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Alabama. Accessed on March 28, 2021
Wikipedia, Alabama. Accessed on March 28, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Alabama Companies. Accessed on March 28, 2021
Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on March 28, 2021
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YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on March 28, 2021