Mexico has outpaced China when it comes to exports for the U.S.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysts released its report on international trade for 2023 on Feb. 7, showing that Mexico overtook China as the biggest exporter to the U.S. during the year.
Mexico shipped $475.6 billion in goods to the U.S. during the year compared with $427.2 billion in goods from China. It's the first time in 20 years that Mexico topped China.
That doesn't necessarily mean that there's now proof that U.S. buyers are forsaking China. Some of the export strength from Mexico can be attributed to subsidiaries of Chinese companies investing in production in locations deemed friendlier to the U.S. — nearshoring or "friendshoring," as the Voice of America termed it in a report in January.
But Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, told the New York Times that there is a "decoupling" from China-based imports. There are also lingering worries about supply chain snags since the start of COVID-19.
The implications of the 2023 trade statistics are far beyond my limited exposure to economics — ask Plastics News Economics Editor Bill Wood during the Numbers That Matter Live webinar Feb. 27 for true insight — but the numbers out this week may prove to be an interesting turning point.