Little Rock Metro Sets Export Record in 2012

The Little Rock metro produces a record number of exports in 2012, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

Merchandise exports from the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metropolitan area totaled a record $2.4 billion, an increase of 171 percent or $1.5 billion from 2011 to 2012.

The top merchandise export categories from the central Arkansas metro included transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, computer and electronic products, machinery and primary metal manufactures. The top trading partners came from the Middle East region and the European Union.

"In 2012, U.S. companies reached an all-time record of $2.2 trillion in goods and services exports, supporting nearly 10 million jobs,” said Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, in a news release. "Metropolitan areas across the country play a key role in strengthening our economy and continuing the growth of our exports."

The ITA reported that 153 U.S. metros exported more than $1 billion in merchandise in 2012.  More than 200 of them registered positive export growth between 2011 and 2012 with 170 setting export records, including Little Rock.

"These export numbers show that even in these challenging economic times, many local companies are working to enhance their competitiveness and bottom line by making new sales abroad," said Sean Kelley, director of the U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center in Little Rock. "Our office can take companies through the process of exporting and help determine which partner or distribution channel is best."

The full ITA report on U.S. metropolitan areas can be viewed here. For more information on exporting in Arkansas, visit