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As a note, I created a new user and put some of the same commands you
did in the ~/.bash_profile file, chose to use the 'bash' shell (was a
default), and could not create a failed login or errors about missing
'export' command. If I were to guess... well, I'd guess your system has
been tweaked in unexpected ways before you started doing this. Trying
on a fresh SLES system may be worthwhile, as may verifying that
/bin/bash is the same /bin/bash on systems that work (if you have some),
or that security policies and environment variables are otherwise the
same between working/broken systems.

Good luck.
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