1st Quarter 2014

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Though it was cars by a mile, several other industries had reasonable quarters.

Trade Report continued

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The dependence on cars for export growth explains the state's first-quarter struggles throughout the rest of the world. Where there were not significant auto exports, nothing else could take up the slack. Medical-sector exports, so important in the Japanese and European markets, stalled in each. Globally Tennessee's medical instrument shipments were off $10 million (to $658), while pharmaceuticals were down 16% (to $128 million). The two regions where medical sector exports fared best were China and Latin America, explaining part of the relatively better performance of these markets.

Tennessee's Leading Trade Partners

trade weighted dollar index

Latin America actually shrugged off rather substantial declines in Tennessee computer and laptop exports to post its gains. Besides autos and medical instruments, aircraft-related and cellular phone-related exports were the major reasons the continent was the state's best export market for the quarter. The gains were widely spread across the continent, although there was a large reversal in sales to Chile, for several years one of the state's strongest markets. That was due to a collapse of laptop sales.

Though it was cars by a mile, several other industries had reasonable quarters. Whiskey shipments rose just over 20% (to $155 million). The best performances were in Europe, where it was among the few Tennessee exports to shine (which may say something about life in Europe these days?). Polyesters, cellulose, cellular phone networking devices, and aircraft round out the other sizable export sectors that turned in a solid quarter. Among smaller export industries, the best performing were in "basic goods" such as wood or iron and steel goods. Suffering sectors included cotton (falling from $204 million to $184 million), auto parts, dyes and coloring matter, industrial instruments, and mechanical shovels.