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Thanks to growing trade with Mexico, US commerce with Latin America reached new records last year. (Photo: Cofemer Mexico)
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Trade Talk

Despite Trump, US-Latin America Trade Up

Brazil only country outside of US with billionaire growth past year.


Despite the protectionist policies and threats from The White House and US president Donald Trump, US trade with Mexico and Latin America have grown during his two years in power.

US trade with Latin America grew 9 percent last year to a record $897.6 billion, according to a Latinvex analysis of new US Census Bureau data of trade in goods. That follows 7 percent trade growth in 2017. Both figures contrast with declines in 2016 and 2015.

Both US exports to Latin America and imports from the region grew 9 percent each to $428.8 billion and $468.8 billion, respectively. As a result, the US trade deficit with Latin America grew 8.9 percent to $40 billion.

Trade with Mexico, the largest US trade partner in Latin America, grew 9.7 percent to $611.5 billion, with US exports  up 8.9 percent to $265 billion and imports expanding 10.3 percent to $346.5 billion. As a result, the US trade deficit with Mexico grew 15 percent to $81.5 billion -- the highest on record.

Trade with Brazil grew 6 percent to $70.7 billion thanks to increases in both exports and imports with the South American country.

The trade growth with Mexico came despite significant uncertainty over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  On November 30, the US signed a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada aimed at replacing NAFTA – the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA is still pending ratification by the three countries’ legislatures and in the US faces challenges. (See USMCA: Uncertain Outlook).The US Chamber of Commerce and more than 200 companies and associations representing farmers and ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, and technology companies have launched the USMCA Coalition, which will advocate for US congressional approval of the trade pact. (See US Chamber, Companies Support USMCA).


Brazil is the only country outside of the United States that managed to increase its number of billionaires the past year, according to the latest annual ranking from Forbes.

“Brazil has come roaring back—at least when it comes to the very wealthy,” Forbes Assistant Managing Editor Kerry Dolan reports. “A whopping 18 new billionaires hail from the South American country this year, a number of whom have taken their companies public on the São Paulo stock exchange in the recent past.”

Altogether Forbes found 58 billionaires in Brazil this year worth a combined $175 billion.

Banker Joseph Safra replaced 3G Capital owner Jorge Lemann as the richest person, thanks to an estimated fortune of $25.2 billion (versus $22.8 billion for Lemann). Safra also ranks as the world’s richest banker, according to Forbes.  

Mexican mogul Carlos Slim remains the richest person in Latin America, with an estimated fortune of $64 billion, making him also the fifth-richest in the world.


Mexican breadbaker Grupo Bimbo made the ranking of the top 100 most successful fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands worldwide from UK-based Euromonitor International.

It came in at 100th place and was the only company from Latin America.

US-based Kraft Heinz (which is partly owned by Brazil’s 3G capital) was ranked by its two brands. Kraft at 26th place and Heinz at 39rd place.

The ranking encompasses packaged food, soft drinks,beauty and personal care, consumer health, tissue and hygiene, home care, hot drinks and pet care.

© Copyright Latinvex

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