Where in the world: A glance at Alabama’s international trade

An overview of Alabama's imports, exports and ports of call

An aerial view of the Port of Mobile.
An aerial view of the Port of Mobile.

For centuries, the Port of Mobile has been Alabama’s window on the world, receiving needed goods from abroad and shipping Alabama’s products and resources around the world.

As shipping has broadened to include first trains, then trucks, then aircraft, so has the Port of Mobile.

Ironically, next door to the sea-faring port now is the only Airbus final assembly line in the U.S. And parts for the planes are shipped in through the port.

At the same time, the Port of Huntsville has grown, providing a convenient inland port with train connections throughout the nation and air connections to much of the world.

Here’s a quick look at what goes where.

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Top Exporter — Mercedes-Benz U.S. International
Top Exporter — Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Total Exports 2020 — $17 billion; The total is down from $21 billion in 2018.

Export Destinations — 190

Biggest Destination — China. In 2020, Alabama exported $3.1 billion worth of goods to China.

Smallest Destination — Montenegro. In 2020, Alabama exported about $2,600 worth of goods to Montenegro.

Other Big Export Destinations — Canada, Germany, Mexico. All three accepted more than $1 billion in goods from Alabama.

Top Export — Transportation equipment. $8 billion  in transportation equipment was shipped in 2020, down from 2018.

Next Commodities — Paper and chemicals. Both accounts for more than $1 billion in exports.


What goes where? Top destinations for various commodities:

Transportation equipment — Canada

Chemicals — China

Mining — Brazil

Primary metals manufacturing — Mexico

Forestry products – Cina

Atlas Air at the Port of Huntsville.
Atlas Air at the Port of Huntsville.

Port of Huntsville Overseas Connections:

DSV freight service weekly to Europe, Mexico, Asia and South America

Kerry Logistics Network has flights to Hong Kong and Cambodia

Additional cargo carriers: Atlas air, Cargolux Airlines, FedEx and UPS

Port of Mobile:

Specialty Facilities:

  • Roll on/roll off vehicle shipping facility
  • Cold storage shipping facility
  • Coal terminal
  • Steel shipping facility
  • Container terminal


This article appeared in the December 2021 issue of Business Alabama.

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