As a major agricultural producer Alabama has always had a strong influence on domestic trade. However, massive increases in the manufacturing and mining sectors, including the extraction of forestry products and the production of industrial chemicals and machinery, have positioned Alabama to take advantage of global trade as well. According to the Business Roundtable, an association of CEO’s from America’s top corporations, one in five jobs in the state, almost 530,000, depend on foreign trade. Alabama’s exports totaled $15.9 billion in 2008, with transportation equipment leading as Alabama’s main export. International trade in the state is centered on Alabama’s busy ports, which provide almost 67,000 jobs and contribute $8 billion to the state’s economy each year.
International business majors entering the workforce in Alabama will find an environment with a business-friendly tax structure and great accessibility to major ports on the Gulf of Mexico. The Alabama Development Office’s International Trade Division reports that various government and trade-oriented institutions in the state continue to implement strategies to broaden the state’s involvement in foreign markets. Among other initiatives, Alabama continues to send trade missions to countries across the globe, from Ireland to the United Arab Emirates. These missions work to increase distribution of trade leads and market reports while linking Alabama businesses to more than 425 overseas buyers.
Alabama’s International Trade Partners
Alabama exports goods and materials to over 200 foreign markets around the world. Germany, as Alabama’s number one trade partner, received $3.2 billion in exports from the state in 2008, followed by Canada at $2.8 billion and Mexico at $1 billion. Alabama-based companies are working to enter markets previously unexplored by industries based in the state. In fact, according to the Alabama Development Office, Alabama exported over $73 million dollars in goods to Ireland in 2009. While Ireland has been struggling recently in the current global recession, the country remains an important trade partner due to its stable political climate and its membership in the European Union.
The Middle East has also seen a tremendous increase in foreign trade in the last decade, and Alabama has stepped up to take advantage of this dynamic international business opportunity. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of Alabama’s largest trade partners in the Middle East, with exports to the country growing by about 150% in the last decade. In an effort to strengthen this trade partnership, trade representatives from the state targeted the cosmopolitan and strategically essential cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi during the trade mission of 2011.
International Business Jobs in Alabama
Alabama has done an outstanding job of attracting and retaining large, U.S. affiliate companies and multi-national corporations in the last decade. The international aerospace giant, Boeing Company, helped create 15,000 new jobs in Alabama, both directly and indirectly. Boeing employs over 2,500 workers at its production facility in Huntsville and makes over $1.5 million in charitable contributions to organizations that distribute donations locally. Boeing contributes significantly to the local economy by making more than $4.5 million in purchases from 425 local vendors each year. This capital injection into the local economy supports another 19,000 direct and indirect jobs.
German luxury automobile maker Mercedes-Benz’s Tuscaloosa County factory manufactures M-Class, R-Class and GL-Class vehicles and is responsible for more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region. The plant is the state’s largest exporter, with shipments totaling over $1 billion in 2010. Other big multi-national companies with a strong presence in Alabama include Honda of Japan and Hyundai of South Korea.
Companies like these with well established and growing influence in foreign markets around the globe require the services of international accountants, import compliance specialists and international marketing managers among other professionals. These specialized business disciplines facilitate continued growth into new foreign markets while optimizing trade and profit in established markets.
Making International Business Contacts in Alabama
The state of Alabama is rich in resources for those seeking information about careers in international business: