Vehicles Shipped to 99 Countries in 2014
Bt David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
Alabama’s automotive shipments to Russia in 2012 totaled about $50,000, but last year that figure jumped to $83.2 million.
It’s the automotive sector that continues to dominate the state’s exports – accounting for $7.3 billion of the state’s $19.5 billion in total exports and has been No. 1 since 1998. The next four largest export categories: industrial machinery, mineral fuel and oil,iron and steel and plastics – totaled a combined $4.9billion. The automotive-related exports nearly match the next nine categories, which is a combined $7.8billion. In addition to those sectors listed above, others are organic chemicals, aircraft-related, chemical products, electric machinery and optic/medical or surgical instruments.
Most of that $7.3 billion in automotive-related exports were of course vehicles - $6.6 billion. Those vehicles were shipped to 99 countries. Canada is the No. 1market for Alabama-made vehicles with China second and closing the gap after a 27 percent gain from2013. The remainder of the top five markets are (in order) Germany, Mexico (up 21 percent last year)and the United Kingdom. Vehicle exports are showing solid gains in Thailand (89 percent increase); Uruguay(63 percent); Korea (54 percent); and Colombia(51 percent).
The state’s three vehicle manufacturers – Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz – combined to produce nearly 1 million vehicles (997,270) last year, which broke the previous record by almost 80,000 units. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s plant in Montgomery was tops in the state with 398,851vehicles; Honda was second at 363,419 units; and Mercedes produced 235,000-plus vehicles.
“It’s important to see Alabama companies grow through exports because this has great potential to create jobs back at home,” Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said in a statement. “Over the years, we’veseen strong exporting growth and we expect that trend to continue, which will mean more opportunities for Alabama businesses and more jobs.
”Alabama’s combined exports last year were about$60 million less than the all-time record established in 2012 and were shipped to 194 countries. Exports have increased 57 percent since 2009. Canada and China are the top two markets, respectively for Alabama products, but the figures are moving in opposite directions. Exports to Canada declined slightly to $4.2billion while exports to China surged 28.4 percent to almost $3.2 billion. The other top five markets are Mexico ($2.3 billion), Germany ($2.2 billion) and United Kingdom ($604,000).
The Department of Commerce led trade missions last year to Europe (Belgium and The Netherlands);Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore);and South America (Peru and Uruguay). Exports to Uruguay have increased from $9.5 million in 2009 to$62 million in 2013.
The state has also been bolstering its exporting markets with the Export Alabama Alliance, which was created in2004 to create overseas opportunities.
“The activities undertaken by the alliance have proven time after time that we have the professional resources to help small- and medium-sized Alabama companies grow and sustain their business through selling overseas,” Hilda Lockhart, director of the CommerceDepartment’s international trade division, said in a statement.