1st Quarter 2008

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tennessee monthly exports


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Tennessee International Trade Report

Tennessee exports grew to $5.626 billion in the first quarter of 2008. This is a 7.66 percent increase from a year ago. Once again state exporters significantly lagged behind the nation, which posted a 17.16 percent gain in foreign sales for the quarter. Continuing problems in the transportation sector account for most of the state’s weaker export numbers.

The state’s car exports fell nearly $73 million (to $176 million), and its auto body parts sales were down another $62 million (to $58 million). This more than erased gains made in other automotive sectors, such as SUV sales and the export of other auto parts. A large drop in turbojet sales to Singapore added to the woes in the transportation sector, which in total fell by nearly nine percent for the quarter.

The drop in automotive sales occurred despite a return of the Middle East market. Nissan was able to dramatically increase car and SUV sales to the Gulf States. During the first quarter, these countries doubled their vehicle purchases from Tennessee. Together, they accounted for 41 percent of the state’s car exports and 64 percent of its SUV and truck exports — a fairly remarkable gain.

Of course, the high percentage of auto sales going to the Middle East reveals the fundamental problem: a huge drop in sales to Canada and Mexico, the traditional major markets. In fact, SUV sales to Canada were off by a third, and car sales fell by an astounding 60 percent. This combined with troubles in the computer sector (mostly linked to Dell) to produce a net loss in total Tennessee exports to Canada, the state’s biggest market. State exports to Canada dropped by more than $200 million for the quarter, a loss of 13.2 percent of the state’s exports from a year earlier. Placed against the nation’s gain of nearly 12 percent in its exports to Canada, we can see the primary reason for the state’s relatively poor performance for the quarter.

It wasn’t quite as bad in Mexico, where the state was still able to post a 5 percent gain in exports. But this still fell behind America’s overall gain of 11 percent in that market.   next