4th Quarter 2017



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In 2017, exports grew consistently over all 12 months.

 

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Very few of the state's exported goods suffered declines for the quarter. Almost all of the most serious involved staples, manmade and natural, used for weaving clothing or textiles. Cotton shipments fell from $121 million to $74 million, while exports of polyesters, nylon, and rayon were also down. These losses were almost all in China and Southeast Asia, the centers of global apparel production. This suggests that the entire industry was having a slow quarter.

Geographically, Central America repeated its third quarter performance as, in percentage terms, Tennessee's best-performing market. Exports to that region almost doubled. Though Costa Rica was the main destination, shipments were up to almost all Central American countries.

Among larger trade regions, Tennessee exporters made the biggest gains in East Asia, as has so often been the case recently. Exports to China and Japan were each up by over $100 million. Exports to Hong Kong added another $50 million. The only sagging market in the region was South Korea, where exports fell by about $20 million (about a 10 percent decline). State exports also performed very well in South America, where cell phones and computers led the way in producing another $100 million gain. The lion's share of the increase was in Brazil and Chile. Europe essentially held its own, with Tennessee exports up, but negligibly.

Closer to home, Canada and Mexico went different directions. Shipments to Canada were up $56 million, thanks mostly to automobiles and those bulldozers. Sharp losses in computer sales, auto parts, and recorded DVDs limited the gains. Exports to Mexico, however, were down by almost the same amount. Here the losses were almost entirely in the automotive sector.

Tennessee exports declined in only one region, the Middle East. This was due to a steep drop in car exports to Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, exports grew consistently over all 12 months. That was a change from recent years. As 2018 begins, the (still) steadily improving global economy is combining with the falling dollar to create terrific tailwinds for Tennessee exporters. We look forward to seeing the results as we get further into the year.