2nd Quarter 2012

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tennessee trade-weighted dollar index graph [larger view]

tennessee monthly exports graph
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Tennessee International Trade Report

Tennessee posted a $567 million increase in exports for the second quarter.
by Steven G. Livingston | 1 | 2 | 3

Tennessee's exports climbed to $7.903 billion in the second quarter of this year. Though not as robust a gain as we have seen in recent quarters, the state's 7.7% growth exceeded that of the nation (5.6%) and ranked 17th among America's 50 states. Imports grew even faster. Thanks to substantial production increases in Tennessee's automotive and computer sectors, both of which have sizable foreign supply chains, the state's imports increased 10.3% for the quarter. This compares to total American import growth of 3.8% over this period.

Though it was a solid performance, the weakening global economy certainly made itself felt. Trade gains were far narrower, whether considered geographically or in terms of products. Two regions of the world, NAFTA and the Middle East Gulf States, accounted for virtually all of the state's net export increase. The rest of the world was essentially flat. As this suggests, the automotive sector accounted for a large part of the increase in exports (the Gulf States buy very little else from Tennessee other than autos and auto parts). Half of the state's gains were in that one industry. Computers, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and several transportation-related industries (such as tires) made up most of the rest of the export growth. Several exported goods, notably cotton (off $56 million), aircraft (down $85 million), aluminum (off $27 million), and food oils (losing $40), had rough quarters.

Though the NAFTA market gains were primarily due to automotive products, this was the one region of the world where most state export industries were able to continue recent growth even if at a slower pace. Mexico became the first country other than Canada to import more than $1 billion in Tennessee products in one quarter. Exports to the rest of the Americas, however, sharply decelerated. Shipments to Latin America inched up 3.3% but only due to a terrific $26 million gain in Chile. Without Chile, exports to the continent fell modestly in the second quarter. Brazil, by far the largest market in the region, was virtually unchanged. Only Ecuador joined Chile with strong positive numbers for the quarter.

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