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B2B Payment Delays are Likely to Increase in North America

Wednesday, July 10, 2019  
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One-third (33%) of suppliers interviewed in the United States, 34% in Canada and 40% in Mexico expect an increase in the number of customers who delay payment more than 90 days and, along with this delay, problems managing cash flow and DSO, according to the annual Atradius Payment Practices Barometer.


In the U.S., 83% of respondents in the metals sector, 40% in the construction sector and 33% in the ICT/electronics sector anticipate this deterioration in payment behavior. In Canada, this is the case for 3 in 5 respondents in the construction industry. In Mexico, 64% of suppliers interviewed in the machines sector and 54% in both the consumer durables and construction sectors anticipate an increase in the time it takes to collect overdue B2B receivables. 


“After 10 consecutive years of decreasing insolvencies, payment delays in North America are expected to increase over the coming months,” said David Huey, Atradius regional director for the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “This is a clear reversal from last year. It is chiefly due to the regularly changing government trade policies and slowdown of the global economy. In addition to casting a dark cloud over the insolvency outlook, they are putting a heavy strain on global trade. This exposes North American businesses more to the risk of payment defaults from B2B customers. Effectively managing payment defaults is one of the keys to business longevity. In this regard, credit insurance remains the most effective tool for securely building a business”.


With more customers expected to take longer to pay and a worsening economic outlook, Atradius survey respondents are also planning to do more to protect their cash flow. 38% of respondents in Mexico, 35% in the U.S. and 30% in Canada plan on more frequently checking their buyers’ creditworthiness before offering credit terms. 33% of Canadian respondents, 28% in the U.S. and 18% in Mexico plan to increase their bad debts reserves.


The Atradius Payment Practices Barometer is an annual survey of B2B payment practices conducted by Atradius N.V. The Americas edition examines payment behavior in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. This year’s survey was conducted approximately six months after the conclusion of the USMCA trade deal.


Survey results are particularly telling for USMCA countries, as more than half of the exports of 56% of the suppliers interviewed in the three countries are within the USMCA region. And 18.3% of respondents (up from 16.5% one year ago) trade only within the region. While it may still be early to draw conclusions, USMCA appears to be good for trade. For 87% of the suppliers interviewed in Mexico (up from 81.5% last year) and 92% in Canada (up from 90% one year ago) exports to the U.S. have either increased or not changed over the past year. 7 of 10 suppliers interviewed pointed to both economic reasons and government trade policies for the renewed stability.