Arkansas Posts Record Exports in 2012

Arkansas export sales in 2012 rose by 36 percent to a record $7.6 billion, according to data released Tuesday by the International Trade Administration.

The state's strong showing helped the U.S. post its own all-time record for exports of goods and services, $2.2 trillion. American exporting supported almost 10 million American jobs, according to ITA.

Arkansas' exports grew from $5.6 billion in 2011 and increased in many countries, including:

  • Switzerland (+416 percent);
  • Brazil (+263 percent);
  • France (+117 percent);
  • Belgium (+80 percent);
  • Germany (+74 percent).

Most Arkansas exports were in the following ITA categories: transportation equipment, chemicals, food and kindred products, machinery manufactures and primary metal manufactures.

William Burgess, co-owner of Power Technology of Alexander, understands the impact of international sales. They helped his company, which designs and manufactures laser beams and other laser products, remain stable during the recession. Burgess serves as vice chair of the Arkansas District Export Council, which helps Arkansas companies grow their exports.

"Due to the high tech nature of our products, Power Technology has always had strong internationally demand," he said. "This diversification was great during the recent economic downturn. When domestic sales were declining, our export business remained constant. Despite the current turmoil in Europe, we expect our export sales to continue their growth in 2013."

Sean Kelley, director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Little Rock -- essentially, the Arkansas export office -- said the number of Arkansas companies looking to grow international sales is increasing. His office was established to do just that.

Canada remained the state's largest market in 2012 with $1.7 billion in exports, representing 21.7 percent of the state's total exports. Those figures are followed by Mexico ($845 million), China ($720 million), France ($365 million) and Brazil ($360 million). Switzerland's big jump placed it at 13th among Arkansas export markets.

The state's largest export category in 2012 was transportation equipment, accounting for $2.1 billion of the state's 2012 exports according to the ITA data. Other top merchandise exports were chemicals ($925 million), food and kindred Products ($768 million), non-electrical machinery ($712 million) and primary metal manufactures ($569 million).

"These export numbers show that for more and more Arkansas companies, selling internationally is key to growing their businesses and strengthening their bottom line," said Francisco Sánchez, U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade, in a press release. "Exports continue to be a driver of the U.S. economy, supporting millions of well-paying jobs across America. This data confirms that our efforts to remove trade barriers and help American businesses compete globally are having an impact right here in Arkansas."

Businesses seeking more information on exporting can contact Kelley at 501-324-5794 or visit

See the full state export reports from ITA here.