Officially named the United Mexican States, Mexico shares its northern border with the United States and parts of its south-eastern perimeter with Guatemala and Belize.
Mexico shipped US$450.9 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That figure represents roughly 2.6% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Applying a continental lens, four-fifths (79.6%) of Mexican exports by value were delivered to the United States and Canada–fellow North American nations. The value of Mexico’s shipments to European importers was 5.9%. Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for 5.1% of total Mexican exports compared to 4.3% for purchasers in Asia.
Much smaller percentages went to customers in Oceania and Africa.
Mexico’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Mexico’s top trading partners in terms of its export sales. That is, countries that imported the most Mexican shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Mexican exports.
- United States: US$344.9 billion (76.5% of total Mexico’s exports)
- Canada: $14.1 billion (3.1%)
- China: $7.2 billion (1.6%)
- Germany: $7.1 billion (1.6%)
- Brazil: $4.4 billion (1%)
- Colombia: $3.5 billion (0.8%)
- Japan: $3.3 billion (0.7%)
- Netherlands: $2.4 billion (0.5%)
- South Korea: $2.3 billion (0.5%)
- United Kingdom: $2.2 billion (0.5%)
- Chile: $2.1 billion (0.5%)
- Belgium: $2 billion (0.4%)
- Guatemala: $1.95 billion (0.4%)
- Italy: $1.78 billion (0.4%)
- France: $1.77 billion (0.4%)
Well over nine-tenths (88.9%) of Mexican exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Italy led the increases among countries purchasing products exports from Mexico via a 34.6% value expansion from 2017 to 2018. In second place were exporters in Canada (up 23.8%) trailed by shippers in the Netherlands (up 20%), Brazil (up 19.7%) then Chile (up 15%).
Five year-over-year decliners were South Korea (down -33.4%), Japan (down -18.9%), France (down -7.4%), Belgium (down -4.7%) then the United Kingdom (down -2.7%).
Mexico posted an overall -$13.4 billion trade deficit in 2018. That US dollar metric represents a 22.3% increase from a -$10.9 billion deficit one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Mexico incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$76.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Japan: -$14.9 billion
- South Korea: -$14.4 billion
- Germany: -$10.7 billion
- Malaysia: -$9.2 billion
- Taiwan: -$7.9 billion
- Thailand: -$6 billion
- Italy: -$4.8 billion
- Vietnam: -$4.2 billion
- India: -$3.8 billion
Among Mexico’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Mexican deficits with India (up 128.2%), Malaysia (up 27.5%) and South Korea (up 17.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Mexico’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Mexico to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Mexico posted the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$128.7 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Canada: $3.3 billion
- Colombia: $1.8 billion
- Guatemala: $1.4 billion
- Peru: $1.2 billion
- Panama: $1.1 billion
- Venezuela: $931 million
- Australia: $909.3 million
- Belgium: $789.1 million
- El Salvador: $549.2 million
Among Mexico’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Mexican surpluses with Canada (up 108.6%), Panama (up 31.1%) and Colombia (up 19%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Mexico’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Mexico to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Major Mexican Companies Servicing Trading Partners
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of major Mexican companies:
- ALFA (petrochemicals, auto parts, food)
- Arca Continental (soft drinks, bottling)
- Cemex (construction materials)
- FEMSA (alcoholic beverages)
- Grupo Bimbo (bakery products)
- Grupo Mexico (metals, mining)
- Grupo Modelo (brewery)
- Industrias Peñoles (silver, gold, zinc, lead)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Mexican exporters:
- Autotek Mexico (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Manufacturera Lee De Mexico (clothing, accessories)
- Sitwell S A DE (chairs, seats)
- Tubos De Acero De Mexico (casing, tubing, pipes, iron/steel bridges)
See also Mexico’s Top 10 Imports, Mexico’s Top 10 Exports, Top Mexican Trade Balances and Mexico’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 9, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 9, 2019
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 9, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mexico. Accessed on March 9, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 9, 2019
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 9, 2019