Japan, Mexico and Italy on the top of America’s Pals Index


According to the index prepared by the Polish Economic Institute, which shows the strength of countries’ relations with the United States, the countries closest to the US are Japan, Mexico and Italy. The index is inspired by The Economist’s Putin’s Pals index, which looks at the Russian Federation’s alleged geopolitical clout. Given the many methodological nuances, the index should be treated as a light-hearted attempt to illustrate closeness to the US.

Of the 197 countries analysed, Japan stands out as America’s closest ally, which is particularly striking in the military sphere. It hosts 86 military bases and approximately 53,000 American soldiers on the ground, more than half of them on the island of Okinawa. More than other countries, Mexico and Canada owe their high score to their cosy trade relationship with the US. Mexico sends 76% of its export across its northern border, the second-highest share after Haiti. Some countries ended up on the list due to significant gas imports (Lithuania), others because their arms imports gravitate strongly towards the US (the Netherlands and Norway). Many also rely on US technology to generate nuclear power (Japan, Belgium and Brazil). Poland ranks 27th in the index. Despite a robust US military presence (4,500 soldiers, as of 2021), two military bases and significant gas purchases, the country’s trade relations with the US are very modest (3% of the total trade).

In terms of the methodology, countries received a score in ten indices in three broad areas: military, diplomatic and economic. In the military area, we checked whether countries have signed major defence treaties with the US. These are the Rio Treaty (1947), NATO (1949), the US, Australia and New Zealand Treaty (1951), the Republic of Korea Treaty (1953), and the Southeast Asia Treaty (1960). We also considered the number of US military bases and military personnel stationed in each country. Here, we used academic research and databases (such as this and this), combined with data published by the US Department of Defense. We also checked whether a country has taken part in military exercises with the US army in recent decades (as many as 58 have). For the sake of simplicity, we only looked at one proxy in the diplomatic area, which was nevertheless highly informative: how countries voted on the resolution condemning Russia for invading Ukraine at the United Nations emergency session on 2 March 2022. Even though only five voted against it, as many as 35 abstained.

We also broadly attempted to measure countries’ reliance on the US economy, technology and products. We analysed how much they have spent on US arms imports over the past decade as a percentage of total military technology from abroad, how much American gas they purchased relative to domestic consumption in 2022, what share of imports come from the US, and the dollar value of goods and services exported to the US, compared to other trade partners. We also checked whether countries rely on nuclear technology made in the US. It turns out that, of the 32 countries operating nuclear plants, twelve do.

Table 1. America’s Pals Index

Ranking   Total score
1 Japan 6.50
2 Mexico 5.42
3 Italy 5.32
4 Canada 5.07
5 South Korea 4.90
6 Germany 4.59
7 Belgium 4.47
8 The United Kingdom 4.44
9 Lithuania 4.43
10 Brazil 4.34
11 The Netherlands 4.28
12 Norway 4.07
13 Colombia 4.05
14 Slovenia 4.03
15 Portugal 4.02
16 France 3.97
17 Australia 3.83
18 Saudi Arabia 3.82
19 Spain 3.77
20 The United Arab Emirates 3.75
21 Denmark 3.73
22 New Zealand 3.72
23 Chile 3.71
24 Bahamas 3.66
25 Argentina 3.64
26 Slovakia 3.64
27 Poland 3.62
28 Greece 3.60
29 Romania 3.53
30 Latvia 3.45

Source: calculated by PEI.

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