4th Quarter 2010

(Click on graph for larger view.)

percent of Tennessee exports that go to Middle East

2 nations dominate state sales in the middle east

a tale of two Middle Easts



Significant Links to the Middle East?

by Steven G. Livingston

The Middle East dominates the news. Events there give us optimism but also worry. Instability in the region could have major economic consequences around the world. This is, of course, primarily because of oil. But what about other economic ties with the region? In the case of Tennessee, how significant are the countries of the Arabian world to the state and its economy? What might be the economic fallout of the dramatic events we are witnessing?

In 2010, the state exported just over $1 billion in goods to the Arab world. That compares with $160 million in 2000. From that perspective, the state has a much greater stake in the region now than it had even a decade ago. However, from another view, the region remains peripheral to the state economy. Last year, only about 4% of Tennessee exports went to the Arab Middle East — roughly proportional to the size of the population of the region. The percentage of state exports has grown over the past 10 years, though it is today no greater than it was in the mid-1990s.

Moreover, Tennessee exports to the region are actually rather narrow:

continued on page 2 »

What's Changed in 10 Years?

(Tennessee exports in $ millions)


Potato chips
SUVs and cars
Refrigeration equipment
Medical instruments
Construction sets & toys
Motor vehicle parts 5.1   Motor vehicle parts 30.2
Aluminum plates 5.0  
Artificial filament tow
Boiler parts
Refrigeration compressors 3.9   Pigment preparations 18.0
Artificial filament tow 3.7   Telephone sets & parts 17.5
Wooden bedroom furniture 3.7   Aluminum plates 16.7
Medical instruments 3.5   Elect. switches & connectors < 1kW 16.4