That dollar amount reflects a 20.8% increase since 2017 and an 18.6% upturn from 2020 to 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Mexican peso depreciated by -7.1% against the US dollar since 2017 but gained 5.6% from 2020 to 2021. Mexico’s stronger local currency since 2020 makes its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
Mexico’s biggest export products by value in 2021 were cars, computers, trucks, automotive parts or accessories, and crude oil. In aggregate, those major exports accounted for almost a third (32%) of overall exports sales from Mexico. That percentage suggests a fairly concentrated range of exported goods.
Mexico is the world leader for exporting trucks and ranks among the top countries for global sales of computers, cars and automotive parts or accessories.
Mexico’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 89.9% of products exported from Mexico were bought by importers in: United States of America (78.1% of Mexico’s global total), Canada (2.6%), Mainland China (1.8%), Taiwan (1.51%), Germany (1.5%), Japan (0.8%), Brazil (0.7%), Colombia (0.68%), South Korea (0.67%), United Kingdom (0.6%), Guatemala (0.5%) and the Netherlands (0.4%).
From a continental perspective, 84% of Mexico’s exports by value were delivered to fellow North American countries while 5.9% were sold to importers in Asia. Mexico shipped another 5.2% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America (4.6%), Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand (0.2%) then Africa (0.1%).
Given Mexico’s population of 129 million people, its total $494.6 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $3,800 per resident in the southernmost North American country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $3,300 for 2020.
Mexico’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Mexican global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mexico.
- Vehicles: US$115 billion (23.3% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $87.1 billion (17.6%)
- Machinery including computers: $85.3 billion (17.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $27.6 billion (5.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $20.6 billion (4.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11.4 billion (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $11.1 billion (2.2%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $10 billion (2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $9.31 billion (1.9%)
- Vegetables: $8.6 billion (1.7%)
Mexico’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-fifths (78%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 65.8% from 2020 to 2021. That leading product category was propelled by Mexico’s higher international sales of petroleum oils (both processed and crude).
In second place for improving export sales was plastics as materials and items made from plastic via a 24.9% gain.
Mexico’s shipments of beverages, spirits and vinegar posted the third-fastest boost in value, up by 23.6%.
The most modest increase among Mexico’s top 10 export categories was a 1.8% improvement for exported Mexican vegetables.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Mexico’s Most Valuable Export Products further down this article.
Products Generating Highest Trade Surpluses for Mexico
The following types of Mexican product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Vehicles: US$75.9 billion (Up by 10.6% since 2020)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $9 billion (Up by 24.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $8.1 billion (Up by 9.7%)
- Vegetables: $7.9 billion (Up by 0.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $7 billion (Up by 15.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $6.9 billion (Up by 15.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $6.5 billion (Up by 28.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $6.1 billion (Down by -36.1%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $1.9 billion (Up by 14.1%)
- Railways, streetcars: $1.2 billion (Down by -14.9%)
Mexico has highly positive net exports in the international trade of cars, trucks, tractors plus automotive parts or accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Mexico’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.
Products Causing Greatest Trade Deficits for Mexico
Mexico posted an overall -$12 billion trade deficit in 2021. That amount of red ink compares to a $34 billion trade surplus one year earlier in 2020.
Below are exports from Mexico that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Mexico’s goods trail Mexican importer spending on foreign products.
- Plastics, plastic articles: -US$18.3 billion (Up by 43.9% since 2020)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$15.5 billion (Up by 82.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$14 billion (Up by 77.2%)
- Iron, steel: -$11.6 billion (Up by 96.5%)
- Organic chemicals: -$8.7 billion (Up by 48.8%)
- Cereals: -$7.2 billion (Up by 62.7%)
- Other chemical goods: -$6.43 billion (Up by 44.7%)
- Aluminum: -$6.4 billion (Up by 53.8%)
- Oil seeds: -$5 billion (Up by 47%)
- Paper, paper items: -$4.3 billion (Up by 30.6%)
Mexico has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for plastics both as a material and items made from plastics.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Mexico’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Mexico to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Major Mexican Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Mexican companies.
- ALFA (petrochemicals, auto parts, food)
- Arca Continental (soft drinks, bottling)
- Cemex (construction materials)
- FEMSA (alcoholic beverages)
- Grupo Bimbo (bakery products)
- Grupo Mexico (metals, mining)
- Grupo Modelo (brewery)
- Industrias Peñoles (silver, gold, zinc, lead)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Mexican exporters.
- Autotek Mexico (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Manufacturera Lee De Mexico (clothing, accessories)
- Sitwell S A DE (chairs, seats)
- Tubos De Acero De Mexico (casing, tubing, pipes, iron/steel bridges)
Searchable List of Mexico’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Mexico during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020.
|Rank||Mexico's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Computers, optical readers||$33,319,432,000||+4.1%|
|8||Phone devices including smartphones||$11,837,484,000||-0.5%|
|9||Medical, dental or veterinarian instruments||$9,242,931,000||+9.6%|
|11||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$6,166,466,000||+18.2%|
|13||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$5,260,159,000||+14.7%|
|16||Piston engine parts||$4,565,553,000||+29.7%|
|17||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$4,147,744,000||+21.2%|
|18||Electric motors, generators||$3,954,452,000||+20.6%|
|20||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$3,620,186,000||+16.7%|
|21||Electrical converters/power units||$3,612,105,000||+7.1%|
|23||Copper ores, concentrates||$3,420,949,000||+18.8%|
|25||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$3,282,161,000||+33%|
|26||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$3,219,673,000||+15.4%|
|27||Processed petroleum oils||$3,182,186,000||+175.6%|
|28||Air or vacuum pumps||$3,038,432,000||+17.6%|
|30||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$2,918,179,000||+1.4%|
|31||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$2,758,244,000||+13%|
|32||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,593,446,000||+19.6%|
|37||Liquid pumps and elevators||$2,297,966,000||+15.7%|
|38||Miscellaneous plastic items||$2,257,008,000||+14.9%|
|39||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$2,173,499,000||+9.2%|
|43||Electric storage batteries||$1,908,042,000||+5.3%|
|44||Fresh or chilled beef||$1,829,955,000||+35.7%|
|45||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,824,878,000||+22.6%|
|46||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$1,792,766,000||+23.9%|
|48||Computer parts, accessories||$1,745,657,000||+45.4%|
|50||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,703,705,000||+23.6%|
|51||Electric ignition/start equipment||$1,678,414,000||+9%|
|54||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,597,188,000||+25%|
|55||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,590,126,000||+21.6%|
|56||Rubber tires (new)||$1,586,706,000||+33.7%|
|58||Railway/streetcar carrier vans, wagons||$1,475,498,000||-13.9%|
|60||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,445,563,000||+39%|
|61||Pneumatic hand tool||$1,444,190,000||+46.4%|
|64||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,153,474,000||+20.6%|
|65||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,149,021,000||+43.4%|
|66||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$1,078,363,000||+38%|
|67||Yarn wash/clean/iron machines||$1,078,142,000||+25.4%|
|68||Medication mixes in dosage||$1,045,873,000||+6.9%|
|69||Electric motor parts||$1,027,485,000||+14.1%|
|70||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$993,981,000||+11.7%|
|71||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$991,344,000||+37.1%|
|72||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$952,924,000||+24.8%|
|73||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$950,458,000||+191.8%|
|78||Vulcanized rubber items||$872,802,000||+21.7%|
|79||Copper waste, scrap||$863,523,000||+61%|
|80||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$854,193,000||+35.9%|
|81||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$835,471,000||+14.1%|
|82||Lead ores, concentrates||$833,273,000||-43.8%|
|83||Base metal mountings, fittings||$827,347,000||+13.7%|
|84||Radar, radio communication items||$791,881,000||+11.9%|
|85||Unrecorded sound media||$783,437,000||+19.2%|
|87||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$780,169,000||+22.1%|
|88||Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)||$772,157,000||+31.4%|
|89||Iron and steel stoves, barbecues||$764,208,000||+16.9%|
|90||Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms||$761,064,000||+0.3%|
|92||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$742,670,000||+33.8%|
|93||Other organic cleaning preparations||$719,475,000||+11%|
|94||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$713,811,000||-13.1%|
|95||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$695,245,000||+29.7%|
|96||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$678,919,000||+14.5%|
|98||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$673,061,000||+19.9%|
|99||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$655,017,000||+33.7%|
|100||Glass containers including bottles, jars||$651,611,000||+5.9%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$386.8 billion or 78.2% by value for all products exported from Mexico during 2021.
Fastest-growing Mexican exported products are headlined by: plated or coated flat-rolled products made from iron or non-alloy steel (up 191.8% from 2020 to 2021), processed petroleum oils (up 175.6%), crude oil (up 63.3%), copper waste or scrap (up 61%), trailers (up 54.5%), pneumatic hand tools (up 46.4%), and computer parts or accessories (up 45.4%).
In macroeconomic terms, Mexico’s total exported goods represent 18.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($2.667 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 18.5% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2021 compares to 16% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mexico’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeline.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mexico’s average unemployment rate was 4.143% for 2021 down from an average 4.409% in 2020, as reported by the International Monetary Fund.
See also Mexico’s Top 10 Imports, Mexico’s Top Trading Partners, Mexico’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and United States Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 17, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 17, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 17, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mexico. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 17, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 17, 2022