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The largest sources of imported goods

Nearshoring vs. offshoring

The FRED Blog has discussed how, over the past 30 years, the composition of US trade among its partners has changed dramatically. China became the largest supplier of US imports in 2009 and kept that role until 2018. That was the golden age of offshoring. However, as the poet Emily Dickinson would remind us, “thus passes the worldly glory.”

The FRED graph above shows four data series produced collaboratively by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each line represents, as of December 2023, the monthly dollar value of goods imported from the largest US trade partners.* They are, in descending order, the European Union (blue line), Mexico (green line), China (red line), and Canada (purple line).

This short essay from Luis Torres at the San Antonio Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas describes why Mexico overtook China as the second-largest supplier of imported goods into the US. A combination of new tariffs (that is, taxes on imported goods) and supply-chain disruptions reduced goods inflows from China. At the same time, Mexico and Canada boosted their manufacturing industries. In the lingo of international trade, this is the age of nearshoring—notwithstanding the European Union.

*These values exclude import duties, freight, insurance, and other charges related to bringing the merchandise into the US.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “U.S. Imports of Goods by Customs Basis from European Union.” Next, click the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to add the other three series. Save some time by typing their series ID in the search box: IMPCH, IMPMX, and IMPCA.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

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