4th Quarter 2009

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Tennessee export growth


American export growth to China: Tennessee among the 50 states

Eight Questions about Tennessee's Trade with China

by Steven G. Livingston

How rapidly is the Chinese market growing?

Over the past 10 years, Tennessee exports to China have increased more than sevenfold. The Chinese market has grown roughly nine times as fast as the total world market. As you can see from the chart, most of this tremendous growth actually came in the first part of the past decade. The Chinese market didn't fare any better than anywhere else during the recent global slowdown.

But as remarkable as China's 727% growth has been, it has not been the state's fastest growing market over this period. Even ignoring the strange case of Luxembourg (where exports increased by 13 times, more than $400 million, just between 2008 and 2009), Vietnam, Nigeria, and Pakistan have all grown more rapidly than China. However, the largest of these, Vietnam, amounts to about 5% of the Tennessee exports that go to China. So among the sizable markets, no other approaches the growth rate of China.

How does Tennessee compare to other American states?

Most states have substantially increased their exports to China over the past decade, but Tennessee more than most. In 2000, it ranked 22nd among the states in the value of its exports to China. By 2009, it had risen to 14th. Its 10-year growth rate was the 11th best of the 50 states. The chart shows Tennessee's performance against the paths of all the states. During this same period, total American exports to China gained 328%, less than half of Tennessee's growth.

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