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Weekly Chart: Tallying Argentina's and Brazil's Exports to Mexico

February 17, 2017

Nearly all of Mexico's corn imports come from the US. With NAFTA in the balance, Argentina & Brazil see an opening.
$5 billion = value of Brazilian + Argentina exports to Mexico in 2014, a number that could rise if US turns inward.

Updated — The looming threat of unknown changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement could mean an opportunity for South American countries to deepen their trade relations with Mexico. After a presidential meeting in Brasília this month between Brazil’s Michel Temer and Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, the two leaders said they would pursue closer ties with Mexico and other Latin American countries made anxious by U.S. President Donald Trump's promises to back out of trade deals.

Each of the South American economies has already been pursuing deals with Mexico. This week, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Minister Susana Malcorra met with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso and Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo to revise the countries’ economic cooperation agreement and discuss how to tighten ties between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance. Next week, it’s time for Brazil’s Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade, and Services Marcos Pereira to visit Mexico City to meet with Guajardo and Brazilian companies operating in Mexico. Moreover, Mexico's Agriculture Secretary José Calzada is also planning near-term trips to both Argentina and Brazil, specifically with the goal of decreasing reliance on U.S. imports. 

New flirtations with South America’s largest corn exporters could help ramp up Mexico’s negotiating power with the United States. On February 14, Mexican Senator Armando Ríos Piter announced he will introduce a bill pushing Mexico to buy corn from Argentina and Brazil instead of United States. As economist Jorge Suárez-Vélez explained in an AS/COA Online podcast, a slowdown in Mexican imports of U.S. corn and agricultural products would have an impact on states where Trump tended to find strong support.

But how robust is Argentine and Brazilian trade with Mexico now? AS/COA Online takes a look.