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China remains top US trade partner, Mexico No. 2

Top three ports through January were Port of Los Angeles, Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Port Laredo

China’s trade with the U.S. rose 28% to $52 billion in January, with imports to the U.S. increasing 18% and U.S. exports to China rising 79% compared to the same month in 2020. (Photo: FreightWaves Staff)

China was the United States’ top trading partner for the 10th consecutive month in January, and was No. 1 overall in 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Friday.

Mexico was No. 2, as its total trade with the U.S. fell 1.3% to $48.5 billion in January, compared to the same period in 2019. Canada was third with $45.8 billion.

China’s total trade with the U.S. rose 28% to $52 billion in January, with imports to the U.S. increasing 18% to $39 billion. Cell phones, related equipment, computers and plastic articles were the top three imports, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by World City.

U.S. exports to China increased 79% to $13 billion in January compared to the same period in 2020. The top three U.S. exports to China in January were soybeans, computer chips and oil.

China was the top U.S. trading partner with the U.S. in 2020, recording two-way trade amounting to $560 billion. Mexico was No. 2 at $538 billion, followed by Canada at $525 billion. 

Mexico was briefly the No. 1 trading partner with the U.S. during the end of 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the commercial supply chains between the two countries.

U.S. exports to Mexico decreased 6.5% to $19.4 billion in January compared to the same period in 2020.

The top three U.S. exports to Mexico in January were gasoline and other fuels ($1.6 billion), motor vehicle parts ($1.1 billion), and computer chips ($935 million), according to World City

U.S. imports from Mexico rose 2.5% to $29 billion in January, led by passenger vehicles ($2.7 billion), commercial vehicles ($2.1 billion) and motor vehicle parts ($2.1 billion).

With Mexico’s automotive industry regaining momentum, cross-border trade in Laredo, Texas, rose 4.9% to $18.9 billion in January compared to the same period last year.

Port Laredo remained No. 3 among the nation’s 450 airports, seaports and border crossings in January. Port of Los Angeles ranked No. 1 among U.S. gateways, followed by Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Laredo’s top trading partner country in January was Mexico, which accounted for 98% of total trade, or $18.5 billion, followed by China at $103 million and France at $45 million.

Exports passing through Port Laredo fell almost 2% to $7.5 billion in January. Those included motor vehicle parts ($805 million), gasoline and other fuels ($363 million), and internal combustion engines ($333 million).

Imports passing from Mexico through Port Laredo rose 10% to $29 billion in January and included motor vehicle parts ($1.5 billion), passenger vehicles ($1.1 billion) and commercial vehicles ($511 million). 

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]