June 18, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Vehicles, Coal, Plastic Help Push Alabama Exports up 17 Percent

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2012

Alabama exports continue to climb this year, with the latest data showing a 17 percent rise over 2011.

Through April, the value of state goods shipped around the world stood at $6.5 billion, according to data provided by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Canada is the state's top trading partner so far this year, followed by China, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

There has been double-digit year-over-year growth in each of those markets, except for China, where Alabama exports have grown 9 percent so far this year.

Vehicles continue to be the state's top export. Coal, industrial machinery, plastics and organic chemicals round out the top five.

The state commerce department led a trade mission in China last week, taking representatives of seven state companies to Guangzhou and Shanghai.

"We don't know the outcome of success but the appointments sounded and seemed good," said Hilda Lockhart, director of the department's International Trade Division.

There is lot of potential for Alabama companies to do business in China, and the state may follow up with a similar trip next year.

"There is potential for investment from China, and we have met with a number of folks to explore that as well," she said.

Although China's economy has slowed, Alabama trade officials believe that, in the long term, it will offer state companies many opportunities, Lockhart said.

One key concern about doing business in China is intellectual property issues. But those seem to be lessening, Lockhart said, according to conversations with U.S. Embassy staff.

Some local companies have said their designs were pirated by distributors they worked with in China.

U.S. exports to China topped $100 billion for the first time last year.

Alabama shipped $2.3 billion in exports to China during 2011, ranking it No. 14 among its peers, according to The U.S.-China Business Council. China was Alabama's second-largest export market, as state exports to the country have grown more than 1,340 percent since 2000.

Last year, Alabama's overall exports reached a record high of $17.9 billion, up more than 15 percent over 2010.

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