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Mexico

Natalie Hanson         
(202) 205-2571
Natalie.Hanson@usitc.gov

  To view changing data, hover over or touch the animated graphic below.

Change in 2017 from 2016:

  • U.S. total exports to Mexico: increased by $13.3 billion (5.8 percent) to $243.0 billion
  • U.S. general imports from Mexico: increased by $20.0 billion (6.8 percent) to $314.0 billion
  • U.S. trade deficit with Mexico: increased by $6.7 billion (10.4 percent) to $71.1 billion

U.S. Total Exports

U.S. total exports to Mexico[1] increased by $13.3 billion (5.8 percent) in 2017, from $229.7 billion in 2016 to $243.0 billion. In 2017, U.S. exports grew in 8 of the 10 merchandise sectors covered by this report. The largest increases by value were for energy-related products (up $7.0 billion, or 35.8 percent) and chemicals and related products (up $2.2 billion, 6.7 percent). In 2017, U.S. total exports to Mexico in transportation equipment also increased by more than $1.2 billion (3.0 percent). The largest decrease in value of U.S. exports to Mexico occurred in electronic products (down $502.8 million, 0.9 percent). Despite this decrease, electronic products such as computers, telecommunications equipment, consumer electronics, and video monitors remain the top U.S. exports to Mexico, accounting for more than one-fifth of all U.S. exports to Mexico in 2017.

Table MX.1: Mexico: U.S. total exports, general imports, and merchandise trade balance, by major industry/commodity sectors, 2013–17

 
Million $
 
Item
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
Absolute change,
2016–17
Percent
change,
2016–17
U.S. total exports:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Agricultural products
18,868
20,086
18,296
18,503
19,276
774
4.2
    Forest products
5,747
5,839
5,858
5,754
6,066
312
5.4
    Chemicals and related products
33,714
35,758
34,113
32,932
35,126
2,194
6.7
    Energy-related products
23,507
24,696
18,944
19,577
26,585
7,007
35.8
    Textiles and apparel
5,359
5,732
5,996
5,442
5,554
111
2.0
    Footwear
121
120
134
97
95
-2
-1.8
    Minerals and metals
20,893
23,061
22,748
20,981
21,995
1,013
4.8
    Machinery
21,197
23,299
23,472
23,108
24,070
963
4.2
    Transportation equipment
39,088
41,358
42,254
39,951
41,148
1,197
3.0
    Electronic products
47,915
50,645
54,174
53,554
53,051
-503
-0.9
    Miscellaneous manufactures
2,654
3,018
3,080
3,041
2,973
-68
-2.2
    Special provisions
6,892
7,394
7,134
6,761
7,048
287
4.2
        Total
225,954
241,007
236,204
229,702
242,989
13,287
5.8
U.S. general imports:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Agricultural products
19,296
21,218
23,008
24,887
26,703
1,816
7.3
    Forest products
1,652
1,817
1,950
1,910
1,981
71
3.7
    Chemicals and related products
9,652
10,657
10,759
10,608
11,534
926
8.7
    Energy-related products
34,813
30,282
13,674
8,724
11,128
2,405
27.6
    Textiles and apparel
5,830
5,976
5,902
5,804
6,104
300
5.2
    Footwear
549
499
493
413
427
14
3.5
    Minerals and metals
19,278
19,503
18,104
18,099
19,377
1,279
7.1
    Machinery
26,357
29,054
30,098
29,918
31,408
1,490
5.0
    Transportation equipment
85,152
96,659
104,402
105,192
114,156
8,964
8.5
    Electronic products
65,188
65,064
72,485
73,558
75,772
2,214
3.0
    Miscellaneous manufactures
5,382
6,109
6,547
6,782
6,699
-84
-1.2
    Special provisions
7,408
8,891
8,980
8,161
8,756
595
7.3
        Total
280,556
295,730
296,401
294,056
314,045
19,989
6.8
U.S. merchandise trade balance:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Agricultural products
-428
-1,132
-4,711
-6,384
-7,427
-1,043
-16.3
    Forest products
4,095
4,022
3,908
3,844
4,086
242
6.3
    Chemicals and related products
24,062
25,101
23,355
22,324
23,592
1,268
5.7
    Energy-related products
-11,306
-5,586
5,270
10,853
15,456
4,603
42.4
    Textiles and apparel
-472
-243
94
-362
-550
-188
-52.0
    Footwear
-428
-379
-359
-316
-333
-16
-5.1
    Minerals and metals
1,615
3,557
4,644
2,883
2,617
-265
-9.2
    Machinery
-5,160
-5,755
-6,626
-6,810
-7,337
-527
-7.7
    Transportation equipment
-46,063
-55,301
-62,148
-65,241
-73,008
-7,766
-11.9
    Electronic products
-17,272
-14,419
-18,311
-20,003
-22,720
-2,717
-13.6
    Miscellaneous manufactures
-2,728
-3,091
-3,468
-3,741
-3,725
16
0.4
    Special provisions
-515
-1,496
-1,846
-1,400
-1,707
-308
-22.0
        Total
-54,602
-54,723
-60,197
-64,354
-71,057
-6,702
-10.4

Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Note: Import values are based on customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data. Sectors are ordered by the level of processing of the products classified therein.

With respect to energy-related products, Mexico was the largest market for U.S. refined petroleum products, receiving over one-half of U.S. gasoline exports and the largest share of U.S. diesel exports in 2017.[2] Two factors in particular have increased Mexican demand. First, Mexico has been phasing in reforms to its energy sector and in 2016 began allowing companies other than state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to open retail stations and import refined petroleum products. Second, Pemex’s refineries have also been suffering from power outages and running at low utilization rates, reducing domestic supply.[3] Consequently, the value of U.S. exports of refined petroleum products to Mexico increased by $5.6 billion (35.5 percent) in 2017 to $21.5 billion. Much of the increase in the value of these goods can be attributed to an increase in the price of crude oil from 2016 to 2017.[4] In volume terms, U.S. exports of refined petroleum products to Mexico rose from 278 million barrels in 2016 to 337 million in 2017 (a 21.3 percent increase).[5]

Table MX.2: Mexico: Leading changes in U.S. exports and imports, 2013–17

 
Million $
 
Item
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
Absolute change,
2016–17
Percent
change,
2016–17
U.S. total exports:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Increases:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
        Energy-related products:
Petroleum products (EP005)
19,439
19,793
15,443
15,894
21,530
5,636
35.5
            Natural gas and components (EP006)
3,346
4,323
3,031
3,389
4,565
1,176
34.7
        Transportation equipment:
Internal combustion piston engines, other than                     for aircraft (TE002)
5,545
7,265
6,087
6,521
7,634
1,113
17.1
            Aircraft, spacecraft, and related equipment (TE013)
3,300
3,005
3,584
3,029
3,777
748
24.7
        Certain organic chemicals (CH006)
3,742
3,738
3,080
2,891
3,621
730
25.2
    Decreases:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
        Electronic products:
Computers, peripherals, and parts (EL017)
14,665
15,739
16,458
16,518
15,767
-752
-4.6
            Telecommunications equipment (EL002)
6,236
5,805
7,077
5,544
4,837
-708
-12.8
    All other
169,682
181,339
181,444
175,916
181,260
5,343
3.0
        Total
225,954
241,007
236,204
229,702
242,989
13,287
5.8
U.S. general imports:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Increases:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
        Motor vehicles (TE009)
40,493
46,742
50,714
50,003
57,879
7,876
15.8
        Crude petroleum (EP004)
31,940
27,740
12,487
7,583
9,780
2,197
29.0
    All other
208,123
221,249
233,200
236,470
246,386
9,916
4.2
        Total
280,556
295,730
296,401
294,056
314,045
19,989
6.8

Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Note: Import values are based on customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data.

In an effort to shift away from oil-driven power to lower-emission sources of energy, Mexico continues to invest in gas-fired power plants and in developing high-capacity natural gas pipelines. However, limited storage capacity and delays in the build-out of new pipeline infrastructure leave Mexico dependent on U.S. natural gas exports.

In 2017, with demand continuing to grow, Mexico continued to import large quantities of natural gas from the United States, both in its gaseous state (“gas-state”)—imported via pipelines from Texas and other border states[6]—and liquefied. While U.S. exports of gas-state natural gas remained more or less stable from 2016 to 2017 ($2 billion), U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) climbed by $476 million (80 percent) to $597 million in 2017. Indeed, Mexico was the largest market for U.S. LNG, receiving 20 percent of total U.S. LNG exports in 2017. [7]

As with refined petroleum products, U.S. exports of certain chemicals and related products that are derived from petroleum benefited from the recovery in crude oil prices in 2017. The value of U.S. exports to Mexico of petrochemicals and the related plastics sectors increased from 2016 to 2017. In particular, U.S. exports of certain organic chemicals, including ethylene glycol (ethanediol)[8] and methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE),[9] increased by $729.9 million (25.2 percent) from 2016 to 2017. U.S. exports to Mexico of other plastics in primary form increased by $303.9 million (10.5 percent) from 2016 to 2017.[10]

The value of U.S. exports of internal-combustion piston engines, an automotive part that is the United States’ leading transportation equipment export to Mexico, increased by $1.1 billion (17.1 percent), from $6.5 billion in 2016 to $7.6 billion in 2017. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), production sharing in the automotive industry has created a highly integrated regional supply chain among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, where parts are produced and shipped from one country to another for assembly into complete automobiles, the vast majority of which are then sold in the United States.[11]

Also within the transportation equipment sector, U.S. exports of aircraft increased by $748.1 million (24.7 percent), from $3.0 billion in 2016 to $3.8 billion in 2017. In particular, U.S. exports of civilian aircraft increased by $556 million (17 percent)[12] and U.S. exports of military helicopters increased by $267 million (73 percent) in 2017.[13]

U.S. General Imports[14]

U.S. general imports from Mexico increased by $20.0 billion (6.8 percent) in 2017, from $294.1 billion in 2016 to $314 billion in 2017. The value of these imports grew in all 10 merchandise sectors covered by this report. The largest absolute increase was for imports of transportation equipment ($9.0 billion, 8.5 percent), while the largest relative increase was for imports of energy-related products ($2.4 billion, 27.6 percent).

Motor vehicles continued to be the top U.S. imported product from Mexico, valued at $57.9 billion in 2017, an increase of $7.9 billion (15.8 percent). Mexico was the leading supplier of motor vehicles to the United States (including both U.S.-headquartered firms and major non-U.S. vehicle firms), providing 27.7 percent of total U.S. imports in 2017. The United States also imported $13 billion of certain motor vehicle parts from Mexico in 2017, a slight decrease from the $13.5 billion imported in 2016. Taken together, motor vehicles and certain parts accounted for 23 percent of all U.S. imports from Mexico ($70.9 billion).

U.S. Merchandise Trade Balance

The U.S. trade deficit with Mexico grew by $6.7 billion (10.4 percent) to $71.1 billion in 2017, as the increase in U.S. imports (primarily motor vehicles) outpaced growth in U.S. exports. This was true even though exports of motor vehicle engines accounted for a $1.1 billion increase in those exports. The trade deficit overall, and the auto sector in particular, have been cited among the primary incentives for the United States to closely examine and potentially update or renegotiate certain provisions of the NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.[15] Of the merchandise sectors covered by this report, the largest deficits were for transportation equipment ($73.0 billion), electronic products ($22.7 billion), and agriculture ($7.4 billion). The largest surpluses were for chemicals and related products ($23.6 billion) and energy-related products ($15.5 billion).

 

 

[1] In 2017, Mexico was the 11th-largest economy in the world with a GDP of $2.4 trillion, an increase of 2 percent over 2016.  CIA, World Factbook: Mexico (accessed May 25, 2018).

[2] EIA, “This Week in Petroleum,” March 21, 2018.

[3] Pemex’s refining utilization rate was only 48 percent in 2017, a record low. Platts, “Mexican Pemex’s Oil Production Recovers,” February 26, 2018; EIA, “This Week in Petroleum,” January 25, 2017.

[4] See the Energy section of Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2017 for more information.

[5] This figure is calculated by subtracting U.S. exports of crude oil and hydrocarbon gas liquids from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s total calculation of U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products to Mexico. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classifies hydrocarbon gas liquids as a component of natural gas or group of chemicals (olefins) rather than as petroleum products. EIA, “Exports by Destination,” accessed July 16, 2018.

[6] Nemec, “Emerging Markets in Mexico,” March 2018, 18; RBN Energy, “Here to Stay,” April 26, 2018.

[7] World Oil, “EIA: U.S. LNG Exports Quadrupled,” March 27, 2018.

[8] Ethanediol is used to make polyester fibers and in the manufacture of antifreeze.

[9] Methyl tertiary-butyl ether is used as a gasoline additive to elevate fuel octane levels.

[10] See the Chemicals section of Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2017, for more information.

[11] Wilson, “Working Together: Economic Ties,” November 2011, 2018. For further information, please see the Transportation Equipment section of Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2017.

[12] According to Boeing’s orders/deliveries tool (http://www.boeing.com/commercial/#/orders-deliveries), Aeroméxico increased its inventory of Boeing aircraft by taking delivery of three model 787-9 airplanes in 2017, compared to two model 787 airplanes in 2016 and one in 2015.

[13] Over the past few years, the U.S. State Department has approved a number of sales of military helicopters to Mexico under the U.S. Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program. The helicopters are intended to strengthen Mexico’s capability to provide air support for its efforts to combat organized crime and drug trafficking. The FMS is a government-to-government program through which the U.S. government sells military weapons, equipment, and services to allied nations. While the Department of Defense is responsible for implementing individual FMS cases, the State Department must first review and approve the proposed sales. Since 2009, the State Department has approved sales of Bell helicopters (manufactured by Bell Helicopter of Fort Worth, TX) and UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, as well as associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support (manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, headquartered in Stratford, Connecticut). The proposed sales were valued at $93 million (5 Bell 412 EP helicopters) in 2009; at $225 million (5 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters) in 2014; at $680 million (18 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters), in 2014; and at $110 million (3 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters), in 2015. U.S. Department of State, “Third Party Transfers and Foreign Military Sales Teams” (accessed July 1, 2018). 

[14] Although the value of U.S. imports in 2017 was high than that of U.S. exports, this report highlights the most notable shifts in trade by sector over the course of any given year. Since the sectoral shifts in trade in 2017 were more sizable for U.S. exports than for U.S. imports, this report discusses exports at more length.

[15] USTR, “Opening Statement of USTR Robert Lighthizer,” August 16, 2017.

 

Bibliography

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook: Mexico. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html (accessed May 25, 2018).

Congressional Research Service (CRS). Mexico’s Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States, by Clare Ribando Seelke. CRS Report R43313, September 28, 2015. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43313.pdf.

EIA. See U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Nemec, Richard. “Emerging Markets in Mexico to Equal Robust Infrastructure Build-Out.” Pipeline and Gas Journal 245, no. 3 (March 2018).

Platts. “Mexican Pemex’s Oil Production Recovers in Jan, Refining Levels Still Down,” February 26, 2018. https://www.platts.com/latest-news/oil/mexicocity/mexican-pemexs-oil-production-recovers-in-jan-26898415.

RBN Energy. “Here to Stay—The Growing and Possibly Enduring Role of LNG Imports in Mexico’s Gas Market,” April 26, 2018. https://rbnenergy.com/here-to-stay-the-growing-and-possibly-enduring-role-of-lng-imports-in-mexicos-gas-market.

United States Trade Representative (USTR). “Opening Statement of USTR Robert Lighthizer at the First Round of NAFTA Renegotiations.” Press release, August 16, 2017.

U.S. Department of State. “Third Party Transfers and Foreign Military Sales Teams and Functions.” https://www.state.gov/t/pm/rsat/c14021.htm (accessed July 1, 2018). 

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). “Energy Reform Could Increase Mexico’s Long-term Oil Production by 75%.” Today in Energy, August 25, 2014. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=17691.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). “Exports by Destination.”  https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_expc_dc_NUS-NMX_mbbl_a.htm (accessed July 16, 2018).

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). “This Week in Petroleum,” January 25, 2017. https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/archive/2017/170125/includes/analysis_print.php.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). “This Week in Petroleum,” March 21, 2018. https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/archive/2018/180321/includes/analysis_print.php.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). “The Value of U.S. Energy Exports to Mexico Exceeded Import Value for Third Year in a Row,” March 14, 2018. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=35332.

Wilson, Christopher E. Working Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico. Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, November 2011. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Working%20Together%20Full%20Document.pdf.

World Oil. “EIA: U.S. LNG Exports Quadrupled in 2017,” March 27, 2018. http://www.worldoil.com/news/2018/3/27/eia-us-lng-exports-quadtrupled-in-2017.