Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced on Wednesday that Alabama’s exports in 2021 surged more than 20% in value compared to the previous year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Ivey said that there is still strong global demand for Alabama products.

“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,” said Ivey in a statement. “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.”

New federal government figures show that Alabama’s exports of goods and services totaled nearly $20.9 billion last year, which surpassed 2020 and even the 2019 total of $20.8 billion, the last year before the global trade disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers showed that Alabama’s 2021 exports increased more than 21.8% from 2020, mirroring the national year-over-year growth rate of 23.1%. Many key export categories showed robust growth last year.

Alabama businesses exported to 189 countries in 2021, reflecting the vital connection that the state’s high-quality, in-demand products have to the global economy.

The top five destinations were:

1. Germany — $3.7 billion (up 65.7%)

2. Canada — $3.4 billion (up 15.6%)

3. China — $3.2 billion (up 1.6%)

4. Mexico — $2.5 billion (up 35%)

5. South Korea — $921.7 million (up 47.3%)

Japan, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil rounded out the 10 top destinations for 2021.

The state’s top export category was transportation equipment. That sector 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% over last year.

Other top categories for 2021 exports were chemicals ($2.3 billion), forestry products ($1.5 billion), primary metals manufacturing ($1.3 billion) and non-electrical machinery ($1.1 billion).

Greg Canfield is the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“It is critical that we build on the successes of 2021 in order to keep the momentum going,” said Canfield. “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, which increased 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.

Alabama’s unemployment is also back to pre-pandemic levels.

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