USMCA: late payments affect nearly half of B2B trade

Payment Practices Barometer

  • Canada,
  • Mexico,
  • USA
  • Agriculture,
  • Chemicals/Pharma,
  • Electronics/ICT,
  • Food,
  • Metals,
  • Services

7th July 2021

Protection from B2B trade credit risk top future concern for businesses across the USMCA region.


The past year of Covid-19 recession has been a time of uncertainty for economies throughout the world. This can clearly be seen in the results of the 2021 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer Survey for the USMCA region. The survey was conducted in Q2 2021, a full year after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. In addition to capturing views reflecting business confidence, the survey took the pulse of business health through the key performance indicators of trade credit preferences, payment terms, DSO and credit management.

Key takeaways from the report

The future trading environment is an area where all businesses could  benefit from trade credit insurance. In the economies facing heightened levels of trading risk, businesses need to protect their accounts receivable from the risk of payment  default. Businesses should especially be aware of not only their customers’ financial  stability, but all of the businesses involved in a supply chain. They should do this to minimize the risk of insolvency caused by a domino effect, where a significant business failure further up the chain causes a knock-on effect along the chain.

Our Payment Practices Barometer survey reveals that following the outbreak of the pandemic, trading challenges led more businesses to experience distress. Many struggling businesses will have been supported by the temporary fiscal packages, particularly in the  US and Canada. As these are withdrawn during the second half of 2021, we are likely to see a rise in insolvencies. In this environment of heightened risk, it is important that businesses continuously monitor the financial health of their B2B customers and note any early warning signs of insolvency.

Businesses that employ trade credit insurance will benefit from the ongoing market intelligence of their credit insurer, in addition to the peace of mind that their accounts receivable are safe is a major customer does go bust.

Key survey findings for the USMCA

  • 53% of the total value of all B2B sales in the region was made using trade credit last year.  This represents growth, as 44% of businesses told us that they increased the use of trade credit in the months following the pandemic.
  • Businesses throughout the USMCA region reported a rise in the cost of managing their accounts receivable in the months following the outbreak of the pandemic. This may in part be explained by an increase in the percentage of sales made on credit.
  • An average of 41% of businesses across the region reported deterioration in customer payment practices over the past year (US: 47%, Mexico: 44%, Canada: 32%).
  • Late payments affected 47% of the total value of all B2B credit sales (US: 50%, Mexico: 45%, Canada 48%). 6% of invoices were written off by USMCA businesses as uncollectable (US: 8%, Mexico: 5%, Canada 5%).
  • The unpredictability of the pandemic, alongside safeguarding liquidity levels, are the top two concerns cited by businesses across the USMCA region.
  • 59% of the USMCA survey respondents are optimistic that their business performance will improve over the coming months (US: 60%, Mexico: 81%, Canada: 36%).
  • 45% of the region anticipates the improvement will come from a combination of a rebound in the domestic economy and healthier export flows (US: 39%, Mexico: 48%, Canada: 45%).

Interested in getting to know more?

For further insights in the B2B payment practices and overall survey findings in each of the markets surveyed in the USMCA, please refer to the regional report or to the dedicated reports that form the 2021 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for the USMCA, available for download on this website.

Avaliable reports:

  • USMCA: nearly half of all invoices overdue 
  • Canada: trade credit KPIs hold steady despite Covid recession
  • Mexico: businesses offer credit to cement business relationships
  • the US: trade credit used in a bid to attract customers amid economic distress

Overview of B2B payment practices in Asia - By industry

A detailed overview of the B2B payment practices by industry in each of the markets surveyed in the USMCA is contained in the market reports that form the 2021 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for the region. Industries covered in each market report:

  • Canada: chemicals/pharma, steel/metals and services
  • Mexico: agri-food, chemicals/pharma and steel/metals
  • the US: agri-food, ICT/electronics and steel/metals


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