Report: Trade war taking toll on Tennessee exports

Report: Trade war taking toll on Tennessee exports

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The global trade war is not just causing concern on Wall Street, but across Tennessee.

A new report from Middle Tennessee State University said the Volunteer State lost almost $500 million dollars in exports in the last quarter of 2018, which it called it “one of the worst quarters in recent memory.”

“The fall in exports was surprisingly widespread. Exports were off in six of Tennessee’s 10 largest markets,” the report said. “The major reasons include the slowdown in the global auto industry, the continuation of some supply chain shifts that have bedeviled the state all year, and, in several instances, the impact of retaliatory tariffs.”

Hybrid cars, computers and whiskey were among the Tennessee products that took a big hit.

The largest losses were in Canada and Latin America.

The report doesn’t mention agriculture, but Governor Bill Lee says he’s concerned about farmers.

“I think that we’re very concerned about particularly about the impact it has on grain crops, producers for example,” said Lee.

Lee, who is a farmer himself, spoke to a room full of ag-tech leaders at the Davos on the Delta conference Tuesday morning in Memphis.

He said while he believes many opportunities await the Mid-South ag industry, the trade dispute is something to keep a close eye on.

“We are watching that and I talked to our federal delegation about where they think it’s headed and certainly expressed the challenges it provides for ag producers, so we’re watching that,” said Lee.

It’s not all bad news for Tennessee.

The report said several industries saw their exports grow, including aluminum plating, precious metal scrap, blank DVDs and medical instruments.

But the report’s author warned the possibility of more retaliatory tariffs this year remains “a wild card” as the trade war continues.

“The bottom line is that 2019 appears ready to provide plenty of obstacles for Tennessee’s exporters,” the report said.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.