U.S. relations with Mexico are strong and vital. The two countries share a 2,000-mile border with 55 active ports of entry, and bilateral relations between the two have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, whether the issue is trade and economic reform, education exchange, citizen security, drug control, migration, entrepreneurship and innovation, or energy cooperation. The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official relations. It encompasses extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, with some 1.7 billion dollars of two-way trade and hundreds of thousands of legal border crossings each day. In addition, 1.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and Mexico is the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers.
Bilateral Economic Issues
Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market (after Canada) and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). In 2018, two-way trade in goods and services totaled $678 billion. Mexico’s exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. About 80 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2018 went to the United States. In 2018, Mexico was the third-largest supplier of foreign crude oil to the United States, as well as the largest export market for U.S. refined petroleum products and U.S. natural gas. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles, mineral fuels, and plastics. The stock of foreign direct investment by U.S. companies in Mexico stands at $109.7 billion, while reciprocal Mexican investment in the United States is $18 billion.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico cooperate on hemispheric and global challenges, such as managing trans-border infectious diseases and seeking greater cooperation to respond to challenges of transnational organized crime. In 2018, all three countries signed the United States.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to address the needs of the twenty-first century economy.
Mexico is a strong promoter of free trade, maintaining free trade agreements with the most countries of any nation in the world, including pacts with Japan, the EU, and many Latin American partners. In 2012, Mexico joined Chile, Colombia, and Peru to launch an ambitious regional economic integration effort, the Pacific Alliance, focused on liberalizing trade and investment, as well as facilitating the movement of citizens. Eleven Pacific Rim countries, including Mexico, signed the renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership March 8, 2018.
Protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is essential to foster economic growth and innovation. Mexico has seen continued challenges on the IPR front, particularly on enforcement. The 2018 U.S. Trade Representative Special 301 Report, a yearly evaluation of IPR and market access conditions with U.S. trading partners, designated Mexico as a “Watch List” country. Long-awaited updates to Mexico’s copyright and enforcement laws, as well as ineffective IP enforcement, particularly with respect to counterfeit goods and online piracy, remain significant challenges. The United States continues to support and urge Mexico to take the necessary steps to improve the IPR protection and enforcement environment in Mexico.
The border region represents a combined population of approximately 15 million people. Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along our border includes coordinating with state and local officials on cross-border infrastructure, transportation planning, and security, as well as collaboration with institutions that address migration, natural resource, environment, and health issues. In 2010, the United States and Mexico created a high-level Executive Steering Committee for 21st Century Border Management to spur advancements in promoting a modern, secure, and efficient border. The multi-agency U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges and Border Crossings Group meets three times a year to further joint initiatives that improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate planning for new ones. The ten U.S. and Mexican border states are active participants in these meetings. We have many mechanisms involving the border region, including Border Master Plans to coordinate infrastructure and development and close collaboration on transportation and customs issues.
The United States and Mexico have a long history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource issues, particularly in the border area, where there are challenges caused by rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities between the United States and Mexico take place under a number of arrangements, such as the Border 2020 Program; the North American Development Bank; the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation; the Border Health Commission; and a variety of other agreements that address health of border residents, wildlife and migratory birds, national parks, and similar issues. The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), created by a treaty between the United States and Mexico, is an international organization responsible for managing a wide variety of water resource and boundary preservation issues.
The two countries also have cooperated on telecommunications services in the border area for more than 50 years. Agreements cover mobile broadband services, including smartphones and similar devices. We continue to hold regular consultations on telecommunications to promote growth in this dynamic sector and to help facilitate compatible telecommunications services in border areas.
Educational and Cultural Exchanges
The United States has a robust series of exchange programs with Mexico. These programs work with young leaders, students, civil society, and entrepreneurs. They assist in English language learning, and advance STEM education, especially for girls. They include music and sports diplomacy, the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, leadership programs like Jóvenes en Acción (Youth in Action), the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), which target indigenous and Afro-Mexican populations, and English language programs such as the Access program, and English Language Fellows.
The U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research expands opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation. The Bilateral Forum complements the U.S. 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which seeks to increase student mobility between the United States and the countries of the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico,
The Fulbright program, initiated in Mexico in 1948, is one of the largest in the world. Since the establishment of the binational Fulbright Commission in 1990 with joint U.S. and Mexican funding, more than 3,500 students on both sides of the border have received Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarships. Fulbright alumni have risen to prominent positions in Mexican business, academics, culture, and politics.
U.S. Security Cooperation with Mexico
Through the Merida Initiative, the United States and Mexico have forged a partnership to combat transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, while strengthening human rights and the rule of law. Merida fosters greater cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges as they share best practices and expand capacity to track criminals, drugs, arms, and money to disrupt the business model of transnational crime. From 2008-2018, the United States has appropriated $2.8 billion in equipment, training and capacity building support under the Merida Initiative. Because of our collaboration, our shared border is more secure, information sharing more fluid, and Mexico now has more professionally trained officials and state-of-the-art equipment to confront transnational crime. Our cooperation with Mexico has never been more vital in the fight to combat the deadly threat of illicit fentanyl, heroin, and synthetic drugs. Merida funding has provided training, equipment, and technical assistance to complement Mexico’s much larger investment in building the capacity of Mexican institutions to counter organized crime, uphold the rule of law, and protect our shared border from the movement of illicit drugs, money, and goods.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs under the Merida Initiative support Mexican efforts to address key challenges to improving citizen security. USAID programs help communities resist the effects of crime and violence and support Mexico’s implementation of criminal justice constitutional reforms that protect citizens’ rights.
Mexico’s Membership in International Organizations
Mexico is a strong supporter of the United Nations (UN) and Organization of American States (OAS). Mexico and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); International Energy Agency (IEA); International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Bank (WB); World Trade Organization (WTO); International Maritime Organization (IMO); and the Wassenaar Arrangement on conventional arms.
The Department’s Key Officers List includes principal U.S. embassy and consulate officials in Mexico.
Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600).