Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Mexican peso depreciated by -21.6% against the US dollar since 2015 and slipped by -0.1% from 2018 to 2019. Mexico’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 87.7% of products exported from Mexico were bought by importers in: the United States (76% of the global total), Canada (3%), Germany (1.5%), China (also 1.5%), Taiwan (1.4%), Brazil (0.9%), Japan (0.8%), Colombia (0.7%), United Kingdom (0.6%), South Korea (0.5%), Netherlands (0.4%) and Guatemala (also 0.4%).
From a continental perspective, 84.2% of Mexico’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 5.5% were sold to importers in Asia. Mexico shipped another 5.3% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (4.6%), Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (0.2%) then Africa (0.1%).
Given Mexico’s population of 125.9 million people, its total $472.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $3,800 per resident in the southernmost North American country.
Mexico’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Mexican global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mexico.
- Vehicles: US$121.3 billion (25.7% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $81 billion (17.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $80.7 billion (17.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $26.6 billion (5.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $19.9 billion (4.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $10.8 billion (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $10.3 billion (2.2%)
- Vegetables: $7.8 billion (1.7%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $7.5 billion (1.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $7.4 billion (1.6%)
Mexico’s top 10 exports accounted for nearly four-fifths (79%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Fruits and nuts represent the fastest grower among Mexico’s top 10 export categories, up 13.3% in value from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were plastics including items made from plastic which rose 13%. Exported beverages, spirits and vinegar posted Mexico’s third-fastest gain in value up 11.3% year over year, trailed by vegetables from Mexico with its 8.3% increase.
Mexico’s 3 declining top categories were: mineral fuels including oil (down -10.6%) weighed down by lower revenues from international sales of petroleum oils and gases as well as electrical energy; furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings (down -2.8%); and electrical machinery and equipment (down -1.2%).
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 near the bottom of this article.
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$71 billion (Down by -2% since 2018)
- Vegetables: $6.8 billion (Up by 2.2%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $6 billion (Up by 6.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $5.9 billion (Down by -9.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $5.7 billion (Up by 6.5%)
- Gems, precious metals: $5.6 billion (Down by -1.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $3.4 billion (Down by -18.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $3.4 billion (Down by -264.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.4 billion (Down by -10%)
- Railways, streetcars: $2.4 billion (Up by 45.3%)
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.
Overall Mexico posted a $5 billion trade surplus in 2019. That amount reflects a reversal from a -$13.4 billion deficit one year earlier.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$14.3 billion (Down by -13.6% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.8 billion (Up by 6.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$13.8 billion (Down by -12.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$7 billion (Down by -13.1%)
- Organic chemicals: -$5.7 billion (Down by -25.1%)
- Aluminum: -$4.9 billion (Down by -9.2%)
- Other chemical goods: -$4.2 billion (Down by -2.1%)
- Cereals: -$4 billion (Down by -9.1%)
- Paper, paper items: -$3.9 billion (Down by -9.4%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$3.3 billion (Down by -15.8%)
Mexico has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Mexico’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Mexico to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Mexican Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Mexican companies.
- ALFA (petrochemicals, auto parts, food)
- Arca Continental (soft drinks, bottling)
- Cemex (construction materials)
- FEMSA (alcoholic beverages)
- Grupo Bimbo (bakery products)
- Grupo Mexico (metals, mining)
- Grupo Modelo (brewery)
- Industrias Peñoles (silver, gold, zinc, lead)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Mexican exporters.
- Autotek Mexico (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Manufacturera Lee De Mexico (clothing, accessories)
- Sitwell S A DE (chairs, seats)
- Tubos De Acero De Mexico (casing, tubing, pipes, iron/steel bridges)
Searchable List of Mexico’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Mexico during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||India's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Computers, optical readers||$32,151,956,000||+10.2%|
|7||Phone system devices including smartphones||$12,983,291,000||-25.8%|
|10||Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)||$8,101,657,000||+5.2%|
|11||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$6,214,610,000||-3.8%|
|13||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$4,779,722,000||+7.4%|
|14||Piston engine parts||$4,265,946,000||-4.7%|
|18||Electric motors, generators||$3,758,891,000||+0.9%|
|19||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$3,727,682,000||+1.5%|
|22||Railway/streetcar carrier vans, wagons||$3,349,422,000||+32.6%|
|23||Electrical converters/power units||$3,234,500,000||+8.5%|
|25||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$2,971,732,000||-0.05%|
|26||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$2,853,168,000||+6.9%|
|27||Air or vacuum pumps||$2,800,455,000||+4.9%|
|28||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$2,771,332,000||+1.9%|
|29||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$2,670,542,000||+14.5%|
|32||Liquid pumps and elevators||$2,291,708,000||+5.9%|
|34||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,161,619,000||+4.3%|
|35||Tomatoes (fresh or chilled)||$2,154,855,000||-6.3%|
|37||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$2,123,360,000||-10.1%|
|38||Copper ores, concentrates||$2,090,464,000||-17.1%|
|39||Miscellaneous plastic items||$1,964,899,000||+0.2%|
|40||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$1,952,599,000||+13.3%|
|43||Electric ignition/start equipment||$1,841,307,000||-2.2%|
|46||Processed petroleum oils||$1,716,519,000||-41.2%|
|47||Electric storage batteries||$1,564,860,000||+4.4%|
|48||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$1,562,565,000||+6.3%|
|51||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,371,897,000||+9.4%|
|52||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,342,964,000||+1.7%|
|53||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,338,107,000||+5.8%|
|54||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,297,622,000||-3.4%|
|58||Fresh or chilled beef||$1,216,345,000||+13.4%|
|59||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,199,272,000||+34.5%|
|61||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,178,914,000||+28.4%|
|62||Computer parts, accessories||$1,176,591,000||+6.1%|
|63||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,154,978,000||-3.1%|
|66||Rubber tires (new)||$1,107,474,000||-1.5%|
|67||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$1,073,382,000||-1.4%|
|68||Radar, radio communication items||$1,053,289,000||-7.8%|
|69||Medication mixes in dosage||$959,121,000||-18.2%|
|70||Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms||$942,569,000||+16.3%|
|71||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$904,986,000||-2.9%|
|72||Yarn wash/clean/iron machines||$858,108,000||+3.3%|
|74||Vulcanized rubber items||$850,838,000||-2.4%|
|75||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$817,689,000||-23.3%|
|77||Cabbages, cauliflowers, kale (fresh or chilled)||$778,881,000||+91.8%|
|78||Base metal mountings, fittings||$763,191,000||+3.6%|
|79||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$729,083,000||-0.5%|
|80||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$708,636,000||-24.2%|
|81||Electric motor parts||$698,531,000||+20.4%|
|82||Pneumatic hand tool||$698,253,000||-6.1%|
|83||Iron or steel springs, leaves||$694,178,000||-2.7%|
|84||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$684,710,000||-10.9%|
|86||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$670,299,000||-8.5%|
|87||Unrecorded sound media||$656,660,000||-3.1%|
|88||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$653,397,000||+6.7%|
|89||Sugar (cane or beet)||$653,294,000||-8.4%|
|91||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$649,459,000||-15.5%|
|94||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$621,522,000||+48.8%|
|95||Iron and steel stoves, barbecues||$606,081,000||+2.2%|
|96||Vulcanized rubber tubes, pipes||$581,518,000||+12.7%|
|97||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$572,138,000||+1%|
|98||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$571,500,000||-3.4%|
|100||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$561,091,000||+13.1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$369.9 billion or 78.3% by value for all products exported from Mexico during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Mexico’s total exported goods represent 18% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($2.628 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 18% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2019 compares to 17.5% for 2018. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mexico’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mexico’s average unemployment rate was 3.448% for 2019 up from 3.328% in 2018, as reported by Trading Economics.
See also Mexico’s Top 10 Imports, Mexico’s Top Trading Partners, Top Mexican Trade Balances and Mexico’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 16, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 16, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 16, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 16, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 16, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on December 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 16, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mexico. Accessed on April 16, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 16, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 16, 2020