How Mexico is Becoming the New China

Wendover Productions
4 May 202319:11

TLDRThe trade war between the US and China, coupled with the global supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has led to a shift in manufacturing. Mexico is emerging as an attractive alternative to China for companies looking to relocate their production due to its proximity to the US, lower manufacturing costs, and potential for speed and flexibility. Despite challenges such as corruption, infrastructure, and security concerns, the Mexican economy is experiencing a transformation with increased foreign investment, particularly from China, reshaping the global manufacturing landscape.


  • 🌎 The addition of a 25% import tax on Chinese goods to the US in 2018 marked the beginning of the US-China trade war, leading to a significant reduction in trade between the two countries.
  • 📉 The trade war resulted in an 8.5% decrease in trade from China to the US and a 26.3% decline in the reverse, affecting China's position as the top US trading partner.
  • 🔄 Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent consumer behavior shift towards physical products led to widespread shipping and manufacturing delays.
  • 📈 China's rapid economic development and rise in GDP per capita have led to increased manufacturing costs, prompting foreign firms to seek alternative low-cost manufacturing locations.
  • 🌍 Mexico's proximity to the US, low labor costs, and improving infrastructure make it an attractive alternative for manufacturing, especially for companies looking to avoid tariffs and shipping delays.
  • 🏭 The establishment of the Maquiladora system in Mexico has historically attracted foreign investment, with numerous international companies setting up manufacturing operations in the country.
  • 📊 Despite concerns over security and infrastructure, Chinese investment in Mexico has been on an upward trajectory, with many Chinese manufacturers relocating to take advantage of the benefits.
  • 🔄 The shift of manufacturing from China to Mexico is not only due to trade tensions but also because of Mexico's strategic location and business-friendly environment.
  • 🏞️ Northern Mexico, particularly the state of Nuevo León, has become a hub for US-focused manufacturing industries, contributing to the region's economic growth and development.
  • 👮‍♂️ While the Mexican government has been criticized for not fully capitalizing on the manufacturing opportunity, state-level efforts have been successful in attracting foreign manufacturers.
  • 🌐 The growth of Mexican manufacturing presents a solution to multiple issues, including economic development, violence reduction, and immigration control, but requires recognition and support from both Mexican and American authorities.

Q & A

  • What event marked the beginning of the US-China trade war?

    -The beginning of the US-China trade war was marked by the addition of a short line to Chapter 99 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States on July 6th, 2018, at 12:01 AM, which imposed a 25% import tax on 278 products coming from China.

  • What was the impact of the US-China trade war on trade volumes between the two countries?

    -The trade war resulted in an 8.5% reduction in trade from China to the US and a 26.3% decline in the reverse.

  • How did the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate supply chain issues?

    -The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated supply chain issues by causing dockworkers and truck drivers in key ports like California to fall sick, while their counterparts in China, Vietnam, or India faced stricter social distancing and lockdown restrictions due to being largely unvaccinated or vaccinated with less effective shots.

  • What is the significance of Mexico's geographic location in relation to the US?

    -Mexico's geographic location is significant because it shares a border with the world's largest economy, the United States, which provides a major advantage in terms of logistics and transportation costs.

  • What is the Maquiladora system and how has it contributed to Mexico's economy?

    -The Maquiladora system is a program of low-cost, tax-advantaged factories owned by foreign companies, established to reduce unemployment and attract foreign investment. It has contributed to Mexico's economy by creating jobs and attracting a wide range of international companies to set up manufacturing operations in the country.

  • What are some of the challenges faced by Mexico in terms of infrastructure and internal transportation?

    -Mexico faces challenges such as difficult terrain with mountain ranges and deserts, and dense forests that complicate the construction of roads, rails, and bridges. Additionally, while Mexican infrastructure is improving, it still lags significantly behind that of countries like China.

  • How has the Hofusan Industrial Park been designed to attract Chinese manufacturers?

    -The Hofusan Industrial Park is designed to attract Chinese manufacturers by providing a 200-acre complex with plans to build a residential area for employees and establish various services such as restaurants, hotels, and hospitals, creating a small slice of China where labor is stable and Chinese executives can feel at home.

  • What are the main reasons for the shift of manufacturing from China to Mexico?

    -The main reasons for the shift include rising manufacturing costs in China due to increased wages and improved quality of life, the US-China trade war making Mexico a more cost-competitive option, and the appeal of Mexico's proximity to the US market for reduced logistics times and costs.

  • What is the role of the World Trade International Bridge in facilitating trade between Mexico and the US?

    -The World Trade International Bridge connects Texas and the Mexican state of Nuevo León and is a crucial commercial route. It sees over 6,000 northbound trucks cross it every day, making it a significant point of trade between the two countries.

  • How has the Mexican government's approach to the manufacturing sector impacted the growth of this industry?

    -The Mexican government, particularly at the federal level, has been largely absent in the industrial sector. Most of the work to attract and incentivize the manufacturing industry has occurred at the state level, with states like Nuevo León focusing on developing their manufacturing industries through building industrial parks and offering financial incentives.



📈 The Start of the US-China Trade War and Its Impact

This paragraph discusses the beginning of the US-China trade war with the addition of a tariff line in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. It highlights the initial 25% import tax on a range of products from China and the subsequent escalation of tariffs. The trade war led to an 8.5% reduction in trade from China to the US and a 26.3% decline in the reverse. The paragraph also notes the shift in US trading partners, with Canada and Mexico taking precedence over China. It further touches on the global supply chain chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift in manufacturing and trade dynamics due to the tariff imposition and the pandemic's impact on global trade. The paragraph concludes with an observation on China's changing economic landscape, moving away from being the top low-cost manufacturing hub due to rising wages and the emergence of a middle class.


🌎 The Geographical and Logistical Challenges of Global Trade

This paragraph delves into the challenges of global trade, focusing on the physical distance between manufacturing hubs in China and consumer markets in the US. It discusses the complexities of shipping goods across the Pacific, highlighting the long travel times and the unreliability of shipping schedules. The paragraph also reflects on the era of peak globalization, marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and how recent global events such as the US-China trade war, COVID-19, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have led to a more fractured world. It presents two strategies for dealing with these challenges: fortifying the supply chain with more buffer or relocating manufacturing closer to the market to reduce risks and costs. The paragraph suggests that Mexico, with its proximity to the US and low labor costs, is emerging as an attractive alternative to China for manufacturing.


🏭 The Shift of Chinese Manufacturing to Mexico

This paragraph describes the movement of Chinese manufacturers to Mexico, driven by the incentives of the trade war and the appeal of Mexico's proximity to the US market. It outlines the development of Hofusan Industrial Park, a Chinese-Mexican partnership aimed at attracting Chinese manufacturers with a supportive ecosystem. Despite the park still being under construction, several Chinese companies have already established operations in Mexico, lured by the cost competitiveness and strategic location. The paragraph also discusses the broader context of foreign investment in Mexico's manufacturing sector, including the Maquiladora system and the presence of global brands in the region. It emphasizes the potential for Mexico to become a significant manufacturing hub, transforming the economy and offering a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Mexico and the companies involved.


🇲🇽 The Potential and Challenges of Mexican Manufacturing

This paragraph explores the potential of Mexico as a manufacturing powerhouse, considering its geographic advantages, skilled labor force, and the existing infrastructure for foreign investment. It discusses the efforts of Mexican states like Nuevo León in attracting and incentivizing manufacturing industries, leading to significant economic growth and development. However, the paragraph also highlights the challenges Mexico faces, including a lack of federal government support, pervasive violence, and infrastructure issues. It suggests that improving the manufacturing sector could address broader social issues, such as crime and immigration. The paragraph concludes with a reflection on the media's role in shaping public perception and the need for a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of global events.



💡Harmonized Tariff Schedule

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. In the context of the video, it's used to illustrate the United States' imposition of a 25% import tax on various products from China, marking the beginning of the US-China trade war. This action significantly impacted trade between the two countries and led to a search for alternative suppliers in non-tariffed countries to maintain competitive pricing.

💡Trade War

A trade war refers to a situation where two or more countries impose tariffs or other trade barriers on each other's goods in a tit-for-tat manner, often leading to increased protectionism and reduced international trade. In the video, the US-China trade war is highlighted as a catalyst for reducing trade volume between the two countries and for companies to seek manufacturing alternatives in other countries like Mexico, leading to a shift in global trade dynamics.

💡Supply Chain Chaos

Supply chain chaos refers to significant disruptions and challenges within the network that produces, supplies, and delivers goods and services. In the video, this term is used to describe the widespread logistical issues that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, including factory shutdowns, shipping delays, and empty store shelves in the United States. The chaos exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains and led to a reevaluation of reliance on distant manufacturing hubs like China.


Globalization is the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. It involves the integration of economies, societies, and cultures through trade, investment, technology, and the exchange of ideas. The video suggests that the era of peak globalization, marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall, might be ending due to events like the US-China trade war, COVID-19, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which have led to a more fractured world economy.

💡Manufacturing Costs

Manufacturing costs refer to the expenses associated with the production of goods, including labor, materials, and overheads. In the video, it's discussed that as China's economy has grown, so has the cost of manufacturing there, leading to a decrease in the cost advantage that had initially attracted foreign firms. This cost increase has prompted companies to look for alternative locations with lower manufacturing costs, such as Mexico.


Infrastructure refers to the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, such as transportation systems, power supply, and communication networks. In the context of the video, Mexico's infrastructure is improving but still lags behind that of China, posing challenges for the easy movement of goods and people within the country, which is critical for the manufacturing sector and supply chain efficiency.

💡Northern Mexico

Northern Mexico is the region comprising the states located in the northern part of the country. It has become increasingly important as a manufacturing hub, especially due to its proximity to the United States. The video highlights how this region has attracted numerous international companies, including those from China looking to relocate their manufacturing bases to be closer to the US market and benefit from lower labor costs and more favorable business conditions.

💡Maquiladora System

The Maquiladora System refers to a series of manufacturing operations in Mexico where foreign-owned assembly plants receive imported parts, assemble them, and then export the finished products, often back to the country from which the parts originated. These factories are known for offering low-cost labor and tax advantages, which have made them attractive to foreign investors. In the video, it's mentioned that this system has been instrumental in attracting foreign companies and transforming the Mexican economy, particularly in Northern Mexico.

💡Geopolitical Risk

Geopolitical risk refers to the potential for political events, government decisions, or political instability in a country to affect business operations, investment, or trade. In the video, geopolitical risks are associated with the tensions between China and the US, as well as the global impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These risks have led companies to reconsider their reliance on distant manufacturing bases and seek alternatives with lower geopolitical risk.

💡Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names, and images used in commerce. IP is protected by law, allowing creators to earn recognition or financial benefit from their creations. In the video, the protection of intellectual property is highlighted as a factor that makes manufacturing in Mexico more attractive to companies, as it offers a more secure environment for patents and copyrights compared to China.

💡Economic Expansion

Economic expansion refers to a period of increasing economic activity, typically characterized by growth in GDP, employment, and corporate profits. In the video, Mexico's potential for economic expansion is discussed in the context of its growing manufacturing sector, which is attracting international companies and contributing to the country's wealth and development.


The US-China trade war began with a 25% import tax on various Chinese products in 2018.

The trade war led to an 8.5% reduction in trade from China to the US and a 26.3% decline in the reverse.

China's position as the top US trading partner was replaced by Mexico and Canada due to the trade war.

COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions highlighted the vulnerabilities in globalized trade.

China's rapid economic development and rising GDP per capita have led to increased manufacturing costs.

The rise of e-commerce platforms and tech conglomerates in China reflects the nation's economic diversification.

Geographical proximity and low labor costs make Mexico an attractive alternative to China for manufacturing.

Mexico's infrastructure and corruption rankings present challenges for its manufacturing sector.

The World Trade International Bridge is a critical link for trade between Texas and Nuevo León, Mexico.

Hofusan Industrial Park aims to attract Chinese manufacturers with a supportive ecosystem in Mexico.

Chinese companies like Hisense and Lenovo have already established manufacturing operations in Mexico.

Northern Mexico's Maquiladora system has been successful in attracting foreign investment in manufacturing.

Nuevo León state's focus on manufacturing has made it a leader in Mexico's economy.

Mexico's manufacturing sector has the potential to transform the economy and address social issues like violence and immigration.

The Mexican and US governments have not fully recognized the potential of Mexico's manufacturing sector.

Media bias and the pursuit of clicks can distort the public's understanding of current events and issues.