2nd Quarter 2008





Tennessee International Trade Report (2)

China completes the triad. American exports rose 16.4 percent, while Tennessee eked out a 2.87 percent gain (to $325 million). Tennessee exports to China were up only $11 million in total, in spite of a $5 million increase in artificial filament exports, a $13 million gain in textiles, and a further $11 million gain in the chemical sector. This is because growth elsewhere was offset by a substantial fall in cotton shipments (from $47 to $28 million). Computer and electronics sales also fared poorly, losing $5 million for the quarter.

It’s not often that the biggest markets are also the worst performers, but that was the case for Tennessee this past quarter. Elsewhere in the world, state exporters did extremely well. Medical equipment sales were again very strong. They are by now the state’s largest single exported product ($362 million in the 2nd quarter). Japan (up $14 million) and Belgium (up $25 million) were their two best markets. Orthopedics also had a fine quarter, with exports up more than $30 million, roughly to the same markets. Car sales may have been slow in Canada and Mexico, but the Middle East was a different story. Kuwait, Oman, and the other Gulf States increased their auto purchases by more than $40 million for the quarter. Artificial filament continued its recent strong sales, with gains in a number of countries, such as China, Russia, Indonesia, and Turkey. Global chemical sales grew almost 17 percent, enough to allow the industry to reclaim its old position as the state’s second largest export industry (at the expense of the computer industry). Purchases in Switzerland led to a gain of more than $40 million in integrated circuitry exports.

The result is that, outside the big three markets, the state did very well. Exports to the U.K., Eastern Europe, Japan, and the Middle East all increased by over 20 percent. Sales to the euro markets and to South America each grew by more than $100 million. So there were undoubtedly plenty of bright spots for the quarter.

July 2008 figures offer an early hint that the third quarter might at last reverse the state’s recent lagging export performance. Tennessee exports grew more than 20 percent for the month, finally beating the figures for the entire U.S. (16 percent).

see tables