Alabama exports regain momentum with 22% increase in 2021
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Alabama’s exports in 2021 surged more than 20% in value compared to the previous year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and indicating the underlying resilience of the state’s economy.
New federal government figures show that Alabama’s exports of goods and services totaled nearly $20.9 billion last year, above the 2019 total of $20.8 billion, recorded before widespread global trade disruptions tied to COVID-19.
Alabama’s 2021 exports increased more than 21.8% from the 2020 total, approaching the national year-over-year growth rate of 23.1%. Many key export categories showed robust growth last year, putting them back on track after declines in 2020.
“We are very pleased to see that our optimism at this time a year ago was well-founded. Alabama’s export numbers in 2021 exceeded those of 2019,” Governor Ivey said.
“This is a promising sign that demand for Alabama-made goods and services remains strong, and that Alabama has an integral role to play in the worldwide recovery.”
Alabama businesses exported to 189 countries last year, reflecting the vital connection that the state’s high-quality, in-demand products have to the global economy.
The Top 5 destinations were:
- Germany — $3.7 billion (up 65.7%)
- Canada — $3.4 billion (up 15.6%)
- China — $3.2 billion (up 1.6%)
- Mexico — $2.5 billion (up 35%)
- South Korea — $921.7 million (up 47.3%)
Rounding out the 10 top destinations for 2021 Alabama exports were Japan, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil.
Having rebounded from the pandemic downturn, Alabama exports showed gains across the board in 2021, according to an analysis by the Office of International Trade at the Alabama Department of Commerce.
The state’s No.1 export category — transportation equipment — jumped 25.8% to reach $10.35 billion, a figure that topped the total for 2019. Overseas shipments of Alabama-made motor vehicles rose 38.4% in value, while exports of ships and boats jumped 40% last year.
Increased motor vehicle exports represent an encouraging sign for Alabama’s auto industry, which experienced a 17% decline in overseas shipments in 2020. More than $7.7 billion in vehicle exports were recorded last year, topping the total from pre-pandemic 2019 by over $1 billion, data show.
Other top categories for 2021 exports were chemicals ($2.3 billion), forest products ($1.5 billion), primary metals manufacturing ($1.3 billion) and non-electrical machinery ($1.1 billion), according to Commerce’s Office of International Trade.
“It is critical that we build on the successes of 2021 in order to keep the momentum going,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“The impressive growth in exports of motor vehicles, iron and steel products, in addition to machinery, plastics and forestry products shows that Alabama is well-positioned to meet the demands of overseas buyers in a wide variety of sectors.”
Exports to Germany in particular showed substantial growth during 2021. One of the main drivers powering that increase was Alabama-made motor vehicles, with the value of shipments to Germany increasing 91% to reach $2.8 billion.
Other notable upticks occurred in exports of minerals and ores (388%), chemicals (54%), paper (103%) and fabricated metal products (187%).
Alabama ranked No. 24 among the states in export volume for 2021, moving up a spot from No. 25 in 2020.