The total value of Arkansas exports rose 3.4% to $6.45 billion in 2018, from $6.23 billion in 2017, according to a new report.
The World Trade Center Arkansas in Rogers recently released a report on international trade and jobs data for 2019. A PDF of the full report is available at this link.
Exports to Saudi Arabia rose by 421.4% to $397 million in 2018, from $76 million in 2017. Exports to Belgium increased 115.3% to $196 million, from $91 million. Exports also increased to Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea. The rise in exports to Saudi Arabia can be attributed to a missile contract made between Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabia in 2018. The aerospace and defense company’s Camden facility produces a significant number of THAAD missiles. Saudi Arabia received the third-largest share of Arkansas exports in 2018.
Canada received the largest share of Arkansas exports in 2018. Exports to Canada declined by 3.9% to $1.21 billion. It received 18.7% of Arkansas exports in 2018, down from 20.2% in 2017. Exports to Mexico rose 2.3% to $870 million, from $851 million in 2017. The country received the second-largest share of Arkansas exports in 2018 at 13.5%.
Exports to France declined 55.3% to $326 million in 2018, from $728 million in 2017. Exports also declined to China, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Canada and Mexico support more than 120,000 jobs in Arkansas, or about 35% of all trade jobs in the state, according to the report.
“Data shows that over the last few years, Arkansas trade-related jobs grew six times faster than total employment, paid up to 18% more than similar jobs at non-exporting firms, and were shown to be more secure,” said Melvin Torres, director of Western Hemisphere trade for World Trade Center Arkansas. Businesses that started exporting for the first time in 2018 increased employment about four times faster than non-exporting businesses.
The agricultural industry in Arkansas accounted for more than $3 billion in exports from the state in 2018. Nearly half of agricultural exports went to countries in the Western Hemisphere, while Hong Kong and the United Kingdom each received 5% of the exports.