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USMCA Watch: Huawei in Mexico Could Be Base for Next Trump Tariff Threat

Jun. 10 2019 — Trade relations between the U.S. and Mexico have been improving following the resolution of a migration-related tariff spat and progress toward passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as outlined in Panjiva’s research of Jun. 8.

Yet, the next point of conflict is emerging as the Mexican government prepares to authorize the roll-out of so-called 5G telecoms networks. The Financial Times reports that Mexico, alongside Brazil and Argentina, will continue to consider Chinese telecoms equipment provider Huawei despite U.S.  resistance.

Given the U.S. government’s public stance against Huawei it’s not difficult to imagine the Trump administration repeating its tariff-based approach to migration being repeated with regards to telecoms policy.

Huawei may be rushing exports into Mexico to preempt a change in policy. Panjiva data shows that Huawei’s exports to Mexico reached a record in April after climbing 72.6% year over year to reach a total $1.53 billion over the 12 months to Apr. 30.


Chart shows Mexican imports by Huawei.  Source: Panjiva

The growth so far has related to phones rather than network equipment however. Imports of phones were equivalent to 57.2% of the total in the past 12 months and expanded by 84.8% year over year in April. Network devices, including cellphone base-stations, were a more modest 26.3% of the total after expanding by just 10.5%.


Chart segments Mexican imports by Huawei by product class.  Source: Panjiva