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After 20 years, China surpassed by Mexico as leading source of US imports

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Mexico is now the leading source of goods imported by the U.S., outpacing China for the first time in 20 years.

What the figures say: According to data sourced from the U.S. Commerce Department, the value of goods imported from Mexico has reached over $475 billion in 2023 (up 5% from 2022), while Chinese imports plummeted by 20% to $427 billion, reported the Associated Press. In addition to Mexico, American businesses and consumers have sought alternative suppliers for goods in Europe, South Korea, India, Canada and Vietnam.

Economic tensions: Observers attributed the dramatic change to economic friction between the U.S. and China. The tension between the two countries has been mounting over the past few years, exacerbated by a series of trade tariffs initiated by the Trump administration and maintained under President Joe Biden. These tariffs, aimed at addressing what the U.S. sees as unfair trade practices by China, have prompted American businesses to explore alternative manufacturing bases.

“There was a period where geopolitics didn’t really matter for trade much, but as uncertainty increases in the world, we do see that trade becomes more sensitive to these positions,” noted Stela Rubinova, a research economist at the World Trade Organization, as per the New York Times.

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Impact on Mexico: Mexico has emerged as a key beneficiary of this shift due to its proximity and favorable trade agreements like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. Some Chinese manufacturers have recognized the benefits of this trade agreement and even established operations in Mexico to maintain duty-free access to the U.S. market.

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