Mexico overtakes China and Canada to become United States' largest trade partner

The U.S.'s trade with its southern neighbor accounts for 15.4% of total bilateral trade.

Mexico remains the United States' largest trade partner in 2023. Since the beginning of the year, Mexico has been ahead of Canada and China in trade with the United States. According to Federal Reserve data, the value of trade between the two countries in the first four months of 2023 amounts to $263 billion.

U.S.-China trade exchanges took a sharp plunge in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a new series of tariffs on products with Chinese origin. Prior to that, in 2014, China surpassed Canada in the ranking of imports/exports to the United States.

Percentage share of U.S. foreign trade

  • Mexico: 15.4%.
  • Canada: 15.2%.
  • China: 12

Despite the tariff put in place in 2018 and the consequent slump in trade, the trade balance rebounded again in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. After this increase, trade with China is projected to gradually fall back to below $15 billion per year in 2023.

Meanwhile, barring disruptions in supply chains as a result of the 2020 pandemic, trade with Mexico has remained stable over the past 20 years, with a slight but sustained growth trend since 2008. In the first four months of 2023, U.S. exports to Mexico were valued at $107 billion. Mexican imports to the U.S. totaled $157 billion.

The significant increase in trade with Mexico is largely due to the motor industry, according to the Federal Reserve. For this sector, many intermediate products are manufactured in the United States and transported to Mexico, where they go through a production process again before being exported back to the United States in the form of a final product.

Since 2000, transportation products accounted for about 24.5% of total bilateral trade in manufactured goods. Computer and electronic equipment accounted for 22.4%. Electrical equipment, appliances and components were 8.5%.