Earlier this spring, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Business & Economic Research Center released a report on Tennessee’s trade performance in the fourth quarter of 2018.
According to the report, “[t]he value of state exports fell by over five percent during the fourth quarter, making it one of the worst quarters in recent memory. Tennessee far underperformed the nation (total American exports were up by 3.4 percent for the quarter).” State exports fell to just below $8 billion, making Tennessee rank 38th among all of the states for this quarter.
The fall in exports ranged across many industries, including six of Tennessee’s biggest markets. The three main causes of the underperformance that the report points to are the global slowdown of the automobile industry, supply chain shifts, and the effects of retaliatory tariffs from China and the EU, namely on whiskey exports. Other products that saw declines in exports to China include hybrid cars, laptops, aircraft, and oak wood. Canada and Latin America were the geographic areas where Tennessee’s exports took the biggest hit.
Some of the higher performing industries in this quarter were aluminum, waste and scrap containing precious metals, and medical instruments, the latter of which is already Tennessee’s largest export sector.
Looking to the future, it is expected that the global automotive industry will continue to struggle, in addition to uncertainty surrounding the effects or expansion of retaliatory tariffs.
To read the full MTSU report, visit the report webpage.