The Atlanta metro area achieved a record high $18.8 billion in exports in 2013, according to new data from the U.S. Commerce Department putting the Georgia capital at No. 18 among American metros overall.
The city’s exports were up by $659 million, or 3.6 percent, from the previous year.
A fact sheet pointed out that free-trade agreements matter, with 31.5 percent of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell region’s exports going to NAFTA countries (Mexico and Canada) and18 percent going to nations that would be included in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (European Union members).
But largely unmentioned was the strength of Atlanta’s connections to Asia, a region where geographic distance hasn’t seemed to dampen demand.
Among all 387 American metros evaluated, Atlanta was the No. 4 exporter to Singapore, likely driven by the fact that, overwhelmingly, Atlanta’s top export product was transportation equipment.
The category alone accounted for $4.5 billion, or about a quarter of the city’s exports. Of that, airplane engines and parts made up $3.5 billion. Singapore is a shipping and aerospace hub where many airplane parts manufacturers keep their regional warehouses.
Behind Canada ($3.7 billion) and Mexico ($2.2 billion), Singapore ($1.1 billion) was the state’s third largest export market, eclipsing even China and Japan, which rounded out the top five at $905.1 million and $850 million. Overall, Asia accounted for $4.6 billion in Atlanta’s goods sales.
A total of 7,728 companies in the metro area participated in exporting, with 88 percent being small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Atlanta accounted for 55 percent of exports in Georgia, where exports supported 202,000 jobs, or about 3 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a separate analysis. Among states, Georgia had the 10th highest proportion of its jobs created by exports.
Of those jobs, 183,000 were created by manufactured products, which account for 88 percent of all jobs supported by goods exports. Goods exports also include crops, natural resources and used items.
In the U.S. overall, services accounted for 4.2 million of the 11.3 million jobs directly or indirectly supported by exports.
One caveat to all of the above figures especially affecting Georgia is that states with ports and airports are likely to have their data skewed upward. The origin-of-movement calculations track the location from which the good began its journey to the port. An auto part made in Alabama but consolidated at a warehouse in Savannah before final shipment would count toward the city’s export total.
Georgia’s top five export segments were: transportation equipment ($4.5 billion); machinery, except electrical ($2.9 billion); computer and electronic products ($2.2 billion); food and kindred products ($1.5 billion); and chemicals ($1.4 billion). Paper, plastics, metal and rubber products received honorable mention.
Broken down to a county level, Fulton County dominated all other metro counties with $8.3 billion in exports, followed by Gwinnett ($3.1 billion) and Cobb ($2.7 billion).
In addition to Singapore, Atlanta was among the top metro area exporters to the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Qatar and Poland. Atlanta was No. 10 among cities exporting to Canada.
The new stats come as Atlanta is aiming to formulate a Metropolitan Export Plan with the help of the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative. Learn more at www.atlantamep.com.
See the Commerce Department fact sheet on Atlanta here: http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/metroreports/Atlanta.pdf