Depressed Energy Prices Cause Decline in U.S.-Mexico Trade


2/23/2016 Forbes.com

By Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute

forbesFrom 2009-2014, U.S.-Mexico trade skyrocketed. Bilateral trade grew 75%, faster than U.S. trade with any other major trading partner, including China (61%), and importantly, both imports and exports were growing rapidly. In 2015, trade growth came to a screeching halt, though strong fundamentals suggest this may be more of a temporary blip than a new trajectory.

The Census Bureau recently released U.S. merchandise trade statistics for 2015, and though Mexico is still the United States’ second largest export market and third largest overall trading partner, for the first time since the economic crisis of 2008-2009, U.S.-Mexico trade declined from the previous year’s level. Interestingly, as shown in the graph below, U.S.-Canada trade dropped sharply in 2015, allowing China to become the United States’ top trading partner. In 2014, the two countries traded $534.3 billion, but in 2015 that number fell to $531.1, a decline of some $3.2 billion dollars. U.S. imports from Mexico basically held steady, growing from $294.1 to $294.7 billion, although this apparent stagnation masks multiple underlying trends. Exports, on the other hand, dropped some $3.8 billion. This brief analysis examines recent trends in bilateral trade and their implications for the future of U.S. and Mexican economies.

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