We are the United States' largest trading partner…and we depend on them more than ever.

We are the United States' largest trading partner…and we depend on them more than ever.

This week marked four years since T-MEC came into effect. The anniversary coincides with the release of data: in May, Mexico sold $43,881 million to the United States, cementing its position as a major supplier to the U.S. economy. Second in the table is Canada with $35,669 million, and third is China with $35,037 million.

Of the three countries, Mexico is the only one to see sales increase. Mexico’s 6.1% advance contrasts with a 2.8% decline in Canada and a 2.3% decline in Chinese sales.

Let’s put $43,881 million into perspective. That’s an impressive number. Let’s start by saying that this is eight times more than what is received in remittances. It’s not a matter of a month. In the first five months of 2024, exports to the United States totaled $206 billion. In the same period, shipments from Mexicans living abroad totaled $25,129 million.

We can compare the $206 billion in May to what was exported before the T-MEC agreement entered into force. The cumulative value of exports between January and May 2020 was $149 billion, of which 80% went to the United States, or about $120 billion. In five years, sales to our largest trading partner have almost doubled. This has happened despite the pandemic and Trump… or thanks to both.

COVID-19 and the US conflict with China have changed things dramatically. There is a reorganization of global production chains that has been beneficial for Mexico. We have become an even more important supplier for them, because we are a key part of their decoupling strategy from China. An ideal partner in times when geographic proximity has become an almost unbeatable competitive advantage.

It is up to Mexico to become the main “factory” of the United States. China has played this role for three decades. In that time, the dragon seized the opportunity to become an economic superpower. What will we do with this opportunity? By mid-2024, we will account for 16% of the world’s purchases by the United States. If this trend continues, we may reach 20%. What will we do with it?

The other side of the coin is that we have become very dependent on the United States. About 40% of our GDP depends on exports to them. Beyond the statistics, we can “feel” the phenomenon of integration with the American economy in many cities in the country, where the main activities depend on the US locomotive: Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey, Saltillo, Nuevo Laredo, Leon, Querétaro. ..

How much can sales to the United States grow? The proximity to the border opens up enormous possibilities, but it also reveals a to-do list. We often talk these days about the necessary investments in electricity and urgent changes in water and water resource management. These issues are very important, but they are not the only ones. There is a need to adapt our education system to the challenges of the global economy, without neglecting everything related to major national problems. What can we say about customs and border crossings…!

How much of what we export is Mexican? For more than a decade, experts have called our attention to the need to increase the national added value of the products we export. We have not achieved it, but rather we have advanced and then declined. According to Inegi data, the rate was 39.4% in 2013. It rose to 44.1% in 2015, and by 2022 it will be 40.4% (the statistic is in a table that we pay less attention to than it deserves. It is called VAEMG, Value Added Exports to Global Manufacturing).

The future will bring greater integration of Mexico into the U.S. economy. It is also a highly dynamic interdependent relationship, also shaped by political factors and technological change. Are we ready? How do we prepare?

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