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Last Published: 10/12/2018

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The U.S. Commercial Service in Mexico is pleased to help you identify and navigate the opportunities for selling products and services in Mexico. This section provides a market overview and a series of key considerations for doing business in one of the largest and most vibrant markets for U.S. products in the world.The U.S. Commercial Service in Mexico is pleased to help you identify and navigate the opportunities for selling products and services in Mexico. This section provides a market overview and a series of key considerations for doing business in one of the largest and most vibrant markets for U.S. products in the world.

There are five key reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to Mexico:
  1. Mexico is the 15th largest economy in the world.
  2. Given Mexico’s large, diversified market, most U.S. products can be sold successfully, and the renegotiation of NAFTA seeks to generate even more opportunities for U.S. companies.
  3. Mexico continues to experience stable economic growth.
  4. Recent economic reforms have liberalized key sectors such as energy and telecommunications, creating market opportunities.
  5. Close cultural, social, and economic ties make Mexico a natural market to consider for first-time and expanding exporters.
Mexico’s USD 1.1 trillion economy makes it the second largest economy in Latin America and the 15th largest economy in the world. Mexico has a large, diversified economy that is linked to its deep trade and investment relations with the United States. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently revised the country’s estimated real GDP growth from 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent in 2018, with growth strongly tied to the U.S. economy and world oil prices. In 2013 and 2014, Mexico passed sweeping reforms in the energy, telecom, labor, financial, and education sectors. The government instituted these reforms to increase Mexico’s global competitiveness, and the energy and telecom reforms particularly offer a multitude of new opportunities for U.S. firms.

Today, Mexico is our third largest trading partner (after Canada and China) and second largest export market. Two-way trade in goods and services totaled USD 623 billion in 2017, and this trade directly and indirectly supports millions of U.S. jobs. The United States sold USD 243 billion of U.S. products to Mexico in 2017 and USD 33 billion in services, for a total of USD 276 billion in U.S. sales to Mexico. Mexico is the first or second largest export destination for 27 U.S. states. Mexico is the third–largest agricultural export market for the United States, buying USD 19.5 billion in U.S. agricultural products, including corn, soybeans, dairy, pork, beef, fish, and forestry products in 2017. Mexico accounts for more than one-eighth of all U.S. agricultural exports worldwide, and this represents nearly two-thirds of Mexico’s total agricultural imports. 

Both countries have over USD 122 billion in bilateral, reciprocal foreign direct investment (FDI). Mexico is the 19th-largest investor in the United States, having invested a total stock of USD 35.4 billion at the end of 2017.  The FDI stock between the two markets has risen more than six-fold since 1996. U.S. affiliates of Mexican-owned firms, in such diverse sectors as food, communications, plastics, metals, auto components and business services, employed 79,900 American workers in 2015. Over the last 20 years our supply chains have become increasingly integrated.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into force in January 1994, created a free trade zone for Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Under NAFTA, there are no tariffs for qualifying goods and services traded between the three countries, though as of the writing of this guide the United States imposed tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962.  Mexico subsequently imposed retaliatory tariffs on various U.S. products and brought a complaint against the United States to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The United States, Canada, and Mexico entered into NAFTA renegotiations August 16, 2017, to address the Administration’s concerns that while our economies and businesses have changed considerably over the last 24 years, NAFTA has not. The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA. The NAFTA negotiations include trade in goods; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; customs, trade facilitation, and rules of origin; technical barriers to trade; good regulatory practices; trade in services, including telecommunications and financial services; digital trade in goods and services and cross-border data flows; investment; intellectual property; procedural fairness for pharmaceuticals and medical devices; state-owned and controlled enterprises; competition policy; labor; environment; anti-corruption; trade remedies; government procurement; small- and medium-sized enterprises; dispute settlement; and currency. On August 27, 2018, the United States and Mexico announced an agreement in principle on bilateral issues related to NAFTA renegotiations. Canada expressed its intention to negotiate its remaining issues, which may or may not require additional formal discussion with Mexico. To ratify any final agreement, each country has its own process with specific timelines for notification and approval. For future developments and information on eventual agreements, check the Fact Sheets and NAFTA pages at the Office of United States Trade Representative (www.ustr.gov).


Mexico is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the G-20, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Mexico has more free trade agreements (FTAs) than any other country in the world—12 FTAs covering 46 countries—which include the European Union, European Free Trade Area, Japan, the Pacific Alliance, Israel, and ten countries in Latin America. On March 8, 2018, 11 Asia Pacific countries including Mexico signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership). The Mexican Senate ratified this agreement April 24, 2018. For U.S. exporters, Mexico’s participation in these international agreements means that in general the Mexican market is one of the most open and competitive in the world.

Mexico is the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world.  Seventy-nine percent of its 125 million inhabitants live in urban areas. Ten percent of the population is considered wealthy, and about 44 percent lives in poverty. The remaining 46 percent of the population is considered middle class. Mexico has a very young population with a median age of 28. It offers a large market with a GDP estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of approximately USD 1.1 trillion, and a 2017 estimated per-capita income of USD 9,304 (or USD 19,900 on purchasing power parity basis). There is a large manufacturing base in a wide range of sectors.

At the time of this writing, Mexico has begun a political transition from the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI), to President-Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional or MORENA). In the pages to follow we share a few of the highlights of anticipated changes. For more details on the political transition, please see the link under our Political Environment section.




 
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Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Mexico Trade Development and Promotion