Atlanta’s exports to Africa have more than doubled since 2009, the city’s fastest growth rate to any major region of the world, eclipsing even Asia and South America.
The city’s exports to Africa were up 123 percent from $385 million five years ago to $862.7 million in 2013, far outpacing metro Atlanta’s 38.3 percent in export growth overall during the same period. Growth in exports to Nafta countries (Canada and Mexico), the next fastest-growing region, was 84 percent.
It’s hard to tell from the metropolitan export data released by the U.S. Commerce Department Sept. 3 if any one product category accounted for the rapid rise in Africa exports. But a look at state data hints that the growth is broad based, tracking Africa’s emergence as a consumer market where infrastructure is in high demand.
Transportation equipment was Georgia’s top export segment to the continent, mirroring the state’s overall export pattern. Atlanta made up 55 percent of the state’s exports, and airplanes and parts also were its top export product at $3.5 billion, so it’s likely that they accounted for a significant proportion of the city’s sales to the continent. Machinery and paper were also among Georgia’s top five exports to Africa.
Exports of food manufactures to Africa, however, bucked the state’s broader trend. More than quintupling over the last five years to $221.6 million, they comprised 15.9 percent of Georgia’s exports to Africa but only 7 percent of its exports to the world as a whole.
That could also explain Atlanta’s rise as an African trading partner. Commerce’s city data track product origin based on where they begin their journey to the export market. While the intent is to capture the origins of the products, the numbers can be skewed in situations where products are consolidated at warehouses or port terminals prior to departure.
Atlanta, with its major airport, is also home to a lot of food products consolidators like AJC International and Intervision Foods, which buy proteins from producers and export them all over the world. According to the newest data, the metro Atlanta area exported more than $1 billion in products under the “animal slaughtering and processing” category. Georgia is the world’s largest chicken producer.
Though it was ranked No. 18 overall among exporting cities, Atlanta was cited as a top export partner for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with more than 150 million people.
See more about Atlanta’s exports here: New Data Ranks Atlanta 18th Among Exporting Cities