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Mexico Passes China as No. 1 Source of US Imports

Feb. 8, 2024
Massive declines in Asian goods sent to the U.S., coupled with growth from Mexico, flips long-standing trade patterns.

Continuing global tensions and tariffs on goods imported from China have upended trade standings, pushing Mexico to a dominant No. 1 position as the biggest supplier of imports to the United States.

Data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce show a dynamic upset of global trade, highlighted by a $130 billion flip between China and Mexico. Trade with Mexican goods grew by nearly $21 billion and Chinese merchandise fell by $119 billion. Put another way, China’s exports decline last year was roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from India and Brazil combined.

While near-shoring, the practice of moving manufacturing from Asia closer to the United States to shorten supply lies, may have played a factor, it doesn’t look like it played much of a role outside of Mexico.

Imports to the U.S. from South and Central America were down nearly 6%, a much better showing than the Middle East’s 17.4% drop in goods sent to the U.S. or the Pacific Rim’s 11.7% decline (driven almost entirely by China’s 20.3% dive in exports to the U.S.).

The overall decline in imports to the U.S. is the first major drop since pandemic-fueled declines in 2020.

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