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Arkansas Trade Facts

  • In 2013, Arkansas goods exports were $7.2 billion, up 36 percent ($1.9) billion from 2009, and up 142 percent ($4.2 billion) from 2003(according to the U.S. Dept of Commerce). Goods exports accounted for 5.8 percent of Arkansas GDP in 2013.  Arkansas was the 36th largest state exporter of goods in 2013.
  • In 2013, jobs supported by Arkansas’ goods exports are estimated to be 37 thousand.   U.S. jobs supported by goods exports pay an estimated 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage.

Manufacturing Exports and Jobs

  • Arkansas’ manufacturing exports supported 14.1 percent of its total manufacturing employment in 2011 (latest year available).
  • Arkansas's exports of manufactured products were up by 136 percent between 2003 and 2013 (from $2.8 billion in 2003 to $6.7 billion in 2013).
  • The five largest manufacturing sectors in terms of Arkansas's exports were: Transportation Equipment ($2.1 billion of exports in 2013), Chemicals ($825 million), Processed Food ($747 million), Machinery ($546 million), and Primary Metal Manufacturing ($485 million). These 5 sectors accounted for 71 percent of the state's total manufacturing exports.

Agriculture Exports

  • Arkansas is the country’s 13th largest agricultural exporting state, shipping $3.9 billion in agricultural exports abroad in 2012 (latest data available according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).[1]  Arkansas is the 9th largest exporter of soybeans ($1.1 billion), the largest state exporter of rice ($863 million), the 2nd largest exporter of poultry ($533 million), the 10th largest exporter of vegetable oils ($151 million), followed by cotton ($463 million), and soybean meals ($222 million).  These six export categories accounted for 81 percent of Arkansas’ agricultural exports in 2012. 

Export Markets

  • Arkansas’ state exports of goods to the 20 existing FTA countries totaled $3.3 billion in 2013, 46% of Arkansas’s total goods exports to the world. 
  • Canada is Arkansas’ largest export market with $1.6 billion or 22% of Arkansas’s total goods exports, followed by Mexico ($870 million), China ($683 million), France ($605 million), and Hong Kong ($274 million).
  • In 2013, Arkansas exported $4.3 billion to APEC, $1.7 billion to Asia, $1.4 billion to European Union, $863 million to South/Central America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico), and $85 million to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Small and Medium Sized Businesses

  • Over 1,800 Arkansas small and medium sized businesses exported in 2012(latest data available), accounting for 78.4 percent of exporting businesses from Arkansas and 25.7 percent of Arkansas's exports by value.

Foreign Investment and Jobs

  • In 2011 (latest year available), foreign-controlled companies employed 37,100 Arkansas workers. Major sources of foreign investment in Arkansas in 2011 included France, Japan, United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
  • Foreign investment in Arkansas was responsible for 3.8 percent of the state's total private-industry employment in 2011.

Major Metropolitan Areas Exports

  • In 2013, the following metropolitan areas in Arkansas recorded goods exports: Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway ($2.5 billion), Pine Bluff ($205 million), Jonesboro ($140 million), Hot Springs ($61 million), Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers ($699 million, portions of this MSA are shared with one or more other states), and Fort Smith ($498 million, portions of this MSA are shared with one or more other states).

[1] Estimates of State exports of agricultural products by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture and goods exports by the   U.S. Dept of Commerce are based on different methodologies and are not directly comparable.

Updated September 2014