Since the pandemic showed the fragility of supply chains and with the deterioration of political relations with China and the invasion of Ukraine, many countries are looking for new friends.

Surprising alliances are forming, such as BRICS, the original grouping of five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – which has just admitted six new members, including Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, to form a rather heterogeneous trading bloc.

As the great tectonic plates adjust to the new geopolitical context, nations continue to trade, and changes appear in the nature of trade.

Surprise, Mexico has just overtaken China among the United States’ main trading partners. Between 1989 and 2023, the share of U.S. imports from Mexico, expressed in dollars, increased from 5.7% to 15.2%, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

China’s share, which had increased from 2.7% to 21.6% between 1989 and 2017, decreased to 13.2% in 2023. As for Canada, it remains the second largest trading partner of the United States , but the share of Canadian imports to the United States declined from 18.6% to 13.5% of the total between 1989 and 2023.

The United States also has new friends, such as Vietnam and India, which have carved out a place for themselves on the list of major American trading partners.

It might be easy to conclude that the oft-expressed intentions to shorten supply chains are starting to yield results. After all, Mexico is one of two partners with the United States in what is considered the largest free trade area in the world, CUSMA. He is the neighbor next door, so it would be normal for him to benefit from the reshuffling of international trade cards.

You might also think that globalization is unraveling, but that is probably premature. Trade barriers are increasing, it’s true. According to the International Monetary Fund, the number of new trade barriers has exploded since 2019 and reached 3,000 in 2022 alone.

The United States is the largest importer of goods in the world. And they’re not really in the process of shortening their supply chain. China’s place in American imports has been taken in part by a neighboring country, but also by others just as distant. Vietnam and India export more to the United States, but also Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, notes a TD Bank economist in a recent study1.

According to him, we should not conclude either that the United States is freeing itself from China. The countries that replaced it are often themselves dependent on Chinese investments on their territory and are in many cases intermediaries in the formidable economic machine that China has become.

China continues and will continue to be an important link in the American supply chain, despite the measures taken by the American government to free itself from it, for better or for worse.