Vietnam boots UK out of top seven US trading partners

blomberg – By Brendan Murray

December 19, 2022 at 7:00 PM GMT+7

Vietnam is on track this year to bump Britain from its long-time place among the US’s top seven goods trading partners, which would be the first time the UK hasn’t been in that group in records going back at least to 2004.

The UK’s share of the US merchandise trade slid to 2.6% through the first 10 months of this year while Vietnam’s rose to 2.7%, according to Census Bureau data.

In full-year numbers going back almost 20 years, the top seven US partners in goods trade have consistently been Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Germany, South Korea and the UK, though their position within the group has shifted around.

Vietnam didn’t appear in the bureau’s top-15 list until 2019, and it has climbed ever since, ending last year at No. 10. If Vietnam’s lead over the UK holds for the final two months of 2022, it’ll be the first time that a majority of the top seven are Asian economies.

The Big Seven

Vietnam has bumped the UK from the top seven US goods trading partners

Source: US Census Bureau

*Share of total goods trade; 2022 is through October

The numbers reflect trends that both predate the pandemic and were accelerated by it. China’s share of US goods trade, which stood at 13.2% in October, has been edging down since it peaked on a full-year basis at 16.4% in 2017.

As American companies sought suppliers outside of China during the trade war between Beijing and Washington, the share of US trade with countries like Mexico and Vietnam has been rising.

Vietnam’s total exports from January to November were up 13.4% over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office in Hanoi. 

Mexico posted record exports of $52 billion in September, mostly thanks to strong consumer demand from the US. Shipments of boats, vehicles and computer parts are leading Mexico’s export boom, as Bloomberg reported here last month.

Meanwhile, between the pandemic and Brexit, the UK economy has been through a tumultuous few years and the outlook for 2023 doesn’t look to improve any time soon:

  • British businesses are bracing for a worsening recession after manufacturing and service sectors slumped in the fourth quarter
  • UK retail sales unexpectedly fell in November as Black Friday failed to deliver its usual boost
  • British retailers are drumming up new credit offers to encourage shoppers to spend more during one of the most challenging Christmas periods for business in years
  • In what should be a week where most people turn their thoughts towards the Christmas break, thousands of workers across the UK will instead go on strike

Brendan Murray in London


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