4th Quarter 2011

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tennessee trade-weighted dollar index graph [larger view]

tennessee monthly exports graph
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Tennessee International Trade Report

A solid 13.5% quarterly gain relied on robust growth in North America.
by Steven G. Livingston | 1 | 2 | 3

Tennessee's exports posted a solid 13.5% gain during the fourth quarter of last year. This compared favorably with America's overall 10.6% growth rate. For the year, state exports nudged the $30 billion mark ($29.973 billion), growing over 15% from 2010. The gains in foreign sales, however, were concentrated in the Americas. Other regions of the world proved to be more difficult markets, in particular (and perhaps not surprisingly) the euro zone.

Indeed, Canada and Mexico accounted for more than half of the quarter's global export gains. Shipments to Canada expanded almost across the board, with many industries and firms posting strong numbers for the quarter. Computer equipment, auto parts, auto engines, and DVDs were especially strong north of the border. In percentage terms, Mexico was an even better market for the quarter. Exports to Mexico were up 32% and included a wide variety of products, though most of the big increases were in the automotive sector. Tennessee's sales to the rest of Latin America were just as strong. Exports to South America were up almost $100 million from 2010 (to $526 million, a 23% gain). Brazil (up $60 million) and Chile (up $24 million) were the star markets on the continent, though Peru and Venezuela also performed well. As with Mexico and Canada, the export gains were across a number of industries, though aircraft and auto part sales were particularly notable. Even the Caribbean basin joined the party, buying 16.8% more Tennessee products than a year ago. Here the increased exports were more in the textile and apparel sectors, with yarn and fabric sales doing well. In sum, Tennessee exports to the Americas were up 19%, a gain of over $600 million dollars for the quarter.

The "edges" of Asia were the two other strong markets in the fourth quarter. Tennessee shipments to the Gulf states grew from $257 million to $355 million, a 38% gain, and exports to Japan were up $60 million (to $431 million), a 14% gain. Though some of the sales to Japan were related to the reconstruction after its earthquake and nuclear disaster, most of the increased exports were in medical and orthopedic products, reflecting the aging of the Japanese population.

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