In 2018, Mexico trade with the U.S. reached a record surplus of US$81.5 billion, 14.9% higher than the US$71 billion surplus of 2017. The result comes after a year full of uncertainty due to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and tensions caused by a round of tariffs that Mexico, U.S. and Canada slapped against each other, as part of the bargain process.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mexican exports to the U.S. increased by 10.3% in 2018 to reach just over US$346.5 billion while imports totaled US$265 billion, 8.9% more than in 2017. This is the fifth year in a row that Mexico’s trade surplus with the U.S. increased.
Overall the United States’ global deficit reached a record US$891.3 billion, with 48% of that figure generated via a trade imbalance with China, followed by 9.3% coming as a result of the surplus achieved by Mexico. Germany and Japan were responsible for 7.8% and 7.7% of the U.S. trade deficit respectively.
Mexico, the United States and Canada are part of the so-called USMCA, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In the middle of the renegotiation, President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the trade deficit that his country has with Mexico, saying that the country has taken advantage of its relationship with the United States.
The U.S. government then ordered a series of protectionist measures such as the application of Mexican steel and aluminum tariffs, which were answered by Mexico with tariffs on pork legs, cheeses and American apples. Those measures are still in force.
On November 30, the USMCA was signed by the three countries on the occasion of the G20 Summit, held in Argentina.
The agreement, which sets stricter rules of origin for the automotive sector among other modifications to NAFTA, must be ratified by the legislatures of the respective countries before it takes effect.
But trade officials in Mexico have indicated it will not ratify the deal unless the U.S. withdraws the metal tariffs.