4th Quarter 2008


(Click on graph for larger view.)

2007 E

exports per person in $ value


exports as % of economic activity


export growth rate 2005-7

larger graphs

State Exports by MSA (continued)

To a significant extent, the differences in growth performance reflect what and to where these different MSAs export. In terms of destination, the state features two export patterns. Nashville, Knoxville, Clarksville, and Jackson are primarily focused on North American markets. The other MSAs are more global in scope. In 2007, Memphis exported goods to China valued at $450 million, for example, whereas Nashville's exports to that market were insignificant. Cleveland appears to have the strangest pattern, as few of its exports go to any of the major world economic regions. Instead, much of its trade goes to Latin America.

Export Destinations
(% of 2007 MSA exports to each global region)

 
NAFTA
Asia
EU

Chattanooga
43.02%
22.00%
20.15%
Clarksville
68.93%
9.06%
15.21%
Cleveland
19.08%
1.16%
2.31%
Jackson
75.29%
5.10%
8.63%
Johnson City
38.17%
16.03%
28.24%
Kingsport
13.49%
31.76%
32.21%
Knoxville
49.19%
19.25%
15.09%
Memphis
32.90%
25.94%
23.72%
Morristown
49.11%
13.61%
27.81%
Nashville
59.02%
11.46%
11.07%

These regional differences are largely determined by what is being exported. MSAs that are heavily invested in the automotive industry largely export to Canada and Mexico. This is especially true of Nashville and Clarksville. (Nashville's second largest export sector, computers, is focused upon Canada.) Morristown and Knoxville also concentrate in the transportation sector and so are also disproportionately exporting to the NAFTA countries. The MSAs that feature large chemical sectors are more global in their orientation. This includes Kingsport, of course, but also Chattanooga, for which chemicals are also the largest exported product. The most diverse exporter is Memphis. With large foreign sales of electronics, medical equipment (mostly orthopedics), and paper, it is very balanced across the regions of the world. For two MSAs, Johnson City and Jackson, fabricated metals account for the largest portion of exports. However, the markets are quite different, with Jackson concentrated upon NAFTA, while Johnson City also has significant exports to Europe. Morristown's machinery and transportation exports mostly go to NAFTA, but there are substantial sales in Europe as well. Cleveland is one of the smaller exporting MSAs, but its diverse exports (food, textiles, chemicals, appliances) account for the unusual market profile of the goods shipped by companies from that part of Tennessee.

It is not surprising that when we unpack the state's exports we find that particular parts of the state are concentrated in specific industries and tend to export to specific places. There are also sizable differences in their levels of exporting. Recent difficulties in the auto sector account for the relatively poor export growth of those MSAs that specialize in that industry. Presuming that is corrected, there isn't much evidence that Tennessee's regions are diverging when it comes to their ability to export. Recent patterns have held rather steady. The next few years may put this to the test, but based upon on the past few years, it appears that most regions of Tennessee are contributing to the state's export growth, and we would expect this to continue in the years ahead.

trade report

Sign o' the Times?

The current world economic crisis is shrinking world trade at an astounding pace. As we look ahead to Tennessee's trade in 2009, the global decline in exports to many of its significant export markets is nothing less than startling. January 2009 imports into almost all emerging-market nations are down from a year ago, often 40% or more. Though this collapse of trade is not as severe in the developed world, these numbers suggest a very difficult year is in store for state exporters.

Change in Imports: January 2008 - January 2009