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Emilio CadenaJun 24, 2024 9:00:00 AM3 min read

The Nearshoring Series: Navigating North America's Evolving Trade Dynamics

The Nearshoring Series: Navigating North America's Evolving Trade Dynamics

In today's commercial environment, adhering to rules of origin and compliance has never been more crucial, especially for companies operating within North America under the USMCA.

This is the third blog which is part of “The Nearshoring Series” summarizing some of the key conversations I have had with important stakeholders in recent months. 

Today I want to delve in the necessity that is particularly evident in strategic sectors like the automotive industry, where regional rules and standards aim to ensure a level playing field for all participants. 


Source – U.S. Congressional Research Service 

Broadly, the USMCA creates a baseline for North America as a key platform for building complete supply chains in areas such as electric vehicles (EVs) and semiconductors, as well as address and advance strategic climate iniatitives. 

Read more about North America's transition to electric vehicles in this blog post by Robin Conklen


Source – 

However, policies that affect operational compliance are not the only focus that warrants our attention. Growing concern surrounds Chinese investments in critical areas such as technology and communications. The United States has adopted a selective approach, prioritizing transparency and adherence to market rules. This is evidenced by recent tariffs imposed by the U.S. and Mexico, aimed at protecting strategic, regional markets. This stance calls for prudence and detailed analysis of the long-term impacts of such investments on the region's security and technological innovation.  

As China's economy continues to grow and expand globally, so does their desire to invest in foreign markets, including North America. While this investment can bring economic benefits, there are also concerns about the potential impacts on national security and local industries. Chinese companies have been acquiring large stakes in various industries such as real estate, technology, and energy, raising concerns about their influence and control over strategic sectors.

Additionally, there are concerns about the lack of transparency in these investments and their potential to exploit natural resources without consideration for environmental regulations. These concerns have sparked debates about the need for stricter regulations and oversight of Chinese investment in North America. With the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China, this issue is likely to remain a topic of concern for governments and citizens alike. 

Clarity in business operations and relationships between companies and the government in China is an aspect that requires significant improvement. The current opacity can lead to an atmosphere of uncertainty, affecting not only perception but also confidence in the international market. This uncertainty has been further amplified by the recent import tariffs imposed by the U.S. in China. 

Both the U.S. and Mexico have imposed import tariffs on certain goods. Many of these sectors are key to the Biden administration’s plans to reshore manufacturing to increase supply chain resilience and improve the political economy of the energy transition.


Source – 

In the case of Mexico, the country has established temporary import tariffs ranging from 5% to 50% for 544 HS codes, including items such as steel, aluminum, textiles, apparel, footwear, wood, plastic, chemicals, ceramics, wood, glass, electrical material, furniture, among many others. 

I call this the principle of clarity and transparency "playing by the rules", emphasizing it as a fundamental requirement for China if it seeks active participation in the North American market. This principle is not one-sided; similarly, other countries are expected to respect regulations when investing in China, promoting a fair and equitable competitive environment.  

This context places us at the dawn of a new era in international trade relations, marked by a thorough review of how foreign investments, particularly Chinese, are perceived and managed. The strategic discussions and actions taking place, led by the United States and supported by other economic players, reflect the pursuit of a balance between economic openness and the protection of national strategic interests. 

In conclusion, we face a challenging yet equally opportunistic landscape. The ability to adapt to these new dynamics, respecting the rules and promoting transparency, will define the success of companies and economies in the modern era of international trade. 

U.S.-Mexico collaboration Emilio

Blog post redacted from recent conversations about nearshoring in different media outlets, part of the “Nearshoring Series”.