This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/12/2018
Although Mexico is a major producer and exporter of textile products, the Mexican textile sector is so large and with tariff-free treatment under NAFTA that it represents a best-prospect industry sector for U.S. exporters of specialty fabrics, yarns, and equipment. This section includes a market overview and trade data on the industry.


Mexico is a major textile producer, with an industry based on competitive labor costs and geographic proximity to the United States. U.S. specialty textile producers can capitalize on the large Mexican sector, but they need to understand a few topics, particularly some technical requirements including rules of origin, verification audits, and reference prices. First, however, a few numbers.

According to the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 63 percent of the Mexican textile industry is concentrated in the central and north-eastern parts of the country, including Puebla, Mexico City, and the states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Nuevo Leon, and San Luis Potosi. The textile sector represents 1.3 percent of Mexico’s GDP.

U.S. Textile Sector Exports to Mexico
(Figures in USD Billions)*
 201620172018 (est.)**
Total Textiles & Apparel 5.895.996.21
Total Textile Mill Products5.005.115.28
*Original data in USD for 2016, 2017, and annualized 2018 only.
**Based on annualized July 2017 through June 2018 figures.
Source: Office of Textiles and Apparel

U.S. Textile Sector Imports from Mexico
(Figures in USD Billions)*
 201620172018 (est.)*
Total Textiles & Apparel2.422.502.54
   Apparel 0.880.840.86
Non-Apparel Textiles1.541.671.68
   Fabrics 0.510.580.57
*Original data in USD for 2016, 2017, and annualized 2018 only.
**Based on annualized July 2017 through June 2018 figures.
Source: Office of Textiles and Apparel, Major Shippers Report, Mexico

The tables above show exports and imports of textiles and apparel. Textile machinery is a significant area of opportunity based on industry sources; however, there are not comparable trade statistics to present in tabular format.

Rules of Origin and the NAFTA Certificate of Origin

In line with NAFTA obligations, Mexico has gradually reduced its tariffs on textile imports from the United States that meet the NAFTA rules of origin (i.e., wholly processed in the United States, Canada, or Mexico). Most textile and apparel exporters are not familiar with the rules of origin, or the implications of issuing a NAFTA Certificate of Origin without knowing if the product qualifies as NAFTA origin. U.S. exporters must be aware that labeling as “Made in the USA” is not the same as qualifying for a NAFTA Certificate of Origin.

Qualification for preferential duty treatment under NAFTA depends on whether the textile may qualify as goods produced in the North America region. NAFTA rules concerning textiles are complex and detailed. For a U.S. product to be eligible for duty-free entry into Mexico or Canada, the product must be produced in the United States, entirely of NAFTA component parts, or if foreign components are used, the foreign component must undergo sufficient processing in the United States to meet the rules of origin as provided in the Chapter Four Annex 401 of NAFTA. Annex 401 aims to ensure that most of the production relating to textiles and apparel occurs in North America. The basic rule of origin is "yarn forward".

Rules of origin under NAFTA may be revised. In August, the United States and Mexico announced a bilateral agreement in principle on updated rules to NAFTA. However, the U.S.-Canada and trilateral elements of the talks must still be finalized. For future developments and information on eventual agreements related to the NAFTA renegotiation, check the Fact Sheets and NAFTA pages at the Office of United States Trade Representative (

Verification Audits

Since 2012, the Mexican Tax Administration (Servicio de Administración Tributaria or SAT) has been conducting extensive NAFTA verification-of-origin audits for textile and apparel imports. Letters or questionnaires sent by SAT requesting information on a product´s rules of origin should be answered promptly. U.S. exporters must also ensure they keep complete and clear records showing they are complying with SAT’s deadlines. Mexican importers who do not answer may be subject to large fines.

Textile Decree and Reference Prices

On December 3, 2015, the Mexican Government announced a special program to strengthen the Mexican Textile-Apparel Industry. The main purpose of this program is to protect local industry against counterfeiting from Asia and to promote the financing programs of the Mexican Development Banks (BANCOMEXT and NAFIN) to support small and medium-sized companies in the sector.

Several measures affect Mexican textile importers, and collaterally, U.S. exporters. These measures include an importer registry, the establishment of reference prices (not to be applied to products entering Mexico under a NAFTA Certificate of Origin), and a five-day waiting period for all imports.

Importers of textiles and apparel products must be registered in the Official Registry No.11 for the textile/apparel sector. Registration requirements can be found at SAT’s Guide for the Textile/Apparel Sector.


Leading Sub-Sectors

The technical textile industry in Mexico is experiencing remarkable growth brought about by increasing domestic demand and the shifting of production. This increase in demand has resulted in demand for greater investments in the technical textile market and is a great opportunity for U.S. exporters to increase their presence in Mexico.

Specialty and Industrial Fabrics

Since 2008, Mexico has been the top export market for U.S. specialty and industrial fabrics. For 2016, U.S. specialty and industrial fabric exports to Mexico accounted for approximately 50 percent of total specialty and industrial textile exports from the U.S., representing a 1.13 percent increase over the previous year.

Medical Textiles

Mexico is the largest market for U.S medical textiles, accounting for 27 percent of the total Mexican textile market share in 2017.


The U.S. Commercial Service Mexico is happy to assist you in exploring textile and apparel sector opportunities here. Due the growth of the automotive and aerospace sectors, industrial fabrics for upholstery and protective fabrics represent an opportunity for U.S. companies. Some opportunities in raw materials include synthetic fibers, fabrics with textured polyester dyes, fabrics with artificial fibers, and fine wool fabrics.

In addition, since Mexican yarn producers cannot meet domestic demand, a significant amount of yarn is imported (mostly polyester/viscose and polyester/cotton), creating niche opportunities for U.S. yarn suppliers.

Finally, the United States is the second largest supplier of textile machinery to the Mexican market. Medium- and large-sized companies are investing in new technology and machinery to improve their production and supply chains. There are some opportunities in product design and the introduction of modern technology to yarn and textile production processes.

Web Resources

Mexican Apparel Association (CANAIVE)
Mexican Textile Association (CANAINTEX)
Mexican Tax Administration (SAT)
Secretariat of Economy (SE)



For more information on the textiles sector in Mexico, please contact:

Sylvia Montano

Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service - Mexico City

Tel.: +52 55 5080 2000 ext. 5219


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Mexico Textiles and Apparel Trade Development and Promotion