Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Mexican peso depreciated by -15.1% against the US dollar since 2016 and dropped by -11.5% from 2019 to 2020. Mexico’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Mexico’s biggest export products by value in 2020 were cars, computers, automotive parts or accessories, trucks and crude oil. In aggregate, those major exports accounted for 32.8% of overall exports sales from Mexico. That percentage suggests a relatively 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.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 90.7% of products exported from Mexico were bought by importers in: United States (79.1% of the global total), Canada (2.6%), China (1.9%), Germany (1.5%), Taiwan (1.1%), Japan (0.8%), South Korea (0.8%), Brazil (0.7%), United Kingdom (0.6%), Colombia (also 0.6%), Guatemala (0.5%) and Netherlands (also 0.5%).
From a continental perspective, 84.5% 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 5.1% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (4.2%), Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (0.2%) then Africa (0.1%).
Given Mexico’s population of 127.8 million people, its total $418.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $3,300 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mexico.
- Vehicles: US$100.7 billion (24.1% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $75.5 billion (18.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $75 billion (17.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $18.6 billion (4.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $16.8 billion (4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $9.1 billion (2.2%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $9.1 billion (2.2%)
- Vegetables: $8.5 billion (2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $8.15 billion (1.9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $8.11 billion (1.9%)
Mexico’s top 10 exports accounted for nearly four-fifths (78.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vegetables represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 13.9% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was gems and precious metals via a 13.5% gain led by silver and gold.
Mexico’s shipments of beverages, spirits and vinegar posted the only other gain up by 8.1%.
The leading decliner among Mexico’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -32.7% drop year over year for that product category.
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.
Overall Mexico posted a $34.8 billion trade surplus in 2020. That amount reflects a 543.4% increase from $5.4 billion in black ink one year earlier.
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$68.6 billion (Down by -12.7% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: $9.6 billion (Up by 157%)
- Vegetables: $7.9 billion (Up by 13.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $7.5 billion (Up by 20.9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $7.2 billion (Up by 11.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $6.2 billion (Down by -1.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $6.1 billion (Down by -6.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $5 billion (Up by 31.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.8 billion (Down by -22%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $1.6 billion (Up by 12.7%)
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.
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-$12.7 billion (Down by -16% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$8.3 billion (Down by -48.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$7.9 billion (Down by -46.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$5.9 billion (Down by -23.4%)
- Organic chemicals: -$5.8 billion (Down by -6.9%)
- Other chemical goods: -$4.4 billion (Down by -2.7%)
- Cereals: -$4.4 billion (Down by -0.6%)
- Aluminum: -$4.2 billion (Down by -21.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 7.9%)
- Oil seeds: -$3.4 billion (Up by 2.9%)
Mexico has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for plastics as a material and items made from plastics.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Mexico’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Mexico to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Mexican Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Mexican companies.
- ALFA (petrochemicals, auto parts, food)
- Arca Continental (soft drinks, bottling)
- Cemex (construction materials)
- FEMSA (alcoholic beverages)
- Grupo Bimbo (bakery products)
- Grupo Mexico (metals, mining)
- Grupo Modelo (brewery)
- Industrias Peñoles (silver, gold, zinc, lead)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Mexican exporters.
- Autotek Mexico (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Manufacturera Lee De Mexico (clothing, accessories)
- Sitwell S A DE (chairs, seats)
- Tubos De Acero De Mexico (casing, tubing, pipes, iron/steel bridges)
Searchable List of Mexico’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Mexico during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Mexico's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Computers, optical readers||$31,823,594,000||-1.5%|
|7||Phone system devices including smartphones||$11,873,632,000||-8.8%|
|9||Medical, dental or veterinarian instruments||$8,338,308,000||+0.5%|
|11||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$5,198,432,000||-16.6%|
|13||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$4,572,530,000||-4.5%|
|16||Piston engine parts||$3,540,541,000||-17.3%|
|18||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$3,420,329,000||-8.3%|
|19||Electrical converters/power units||$3,372,764,000||+4.1%|
|21||Electric motors, generators||$3,263,165,000||-13.9%|
|22||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$3,082,593,000||+7.7%|
|25||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$2,768,386,000||-7.1%|
|26||Copper ores, concentrates||$2,763,374,000||+18.1%|
|28||Tomatoes (fresh or chilled)||$2,606,104,000||+20.5%|
|29||Air or vacuum pumps||$2,563,163,000||-8.9%|
|31||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$2,424,041,000||-13.2%|
|32||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$2,407,598,000||+19.6%|
|33||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,165,049,000||-0%|
|36||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$1,987,599,000||-6.6%|
|38||Liquid pumps and elevators||$1,968,434,000||-14.7%|
|39||Miscellaneous plastic items||$1,963,898,000||-0.2%|
|40||Electric storage batteries||$1,781,767,000||+11.1%|
|42||Processed petroleum oils||$1,559,418,000||-17.8%|
|43||Electric ignition/start equipment||$1,531,772,000||-17.1%|
|46||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,481,343,000||+9.9%|
|47||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$1,444,801,000||-7.8%|
|51||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,369,703,000||-0.6%|
|52||Railway/streetcar carrier vans, wagons||$1,350,101,000||-59.7%|
|53||Fresh or chilled beef||$1,343,057,000||+12.8%|
|54||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,305,737,000||-2.8%|
|55||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,274,223,000||+9.2%|
|56||Computer parts, accessories||$1,186,415,000||-0.8%|
|59||Rubber tires (new)||$1,093,874,000||-6.9%|
|62||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,031,890,000||-14.4%|
|64||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$952,546,000||-17.8%|
|65||Pneumatic hand tool||$915,124,000||+25%|
|66||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$883,883,000||-18%|
|69||Electric motor parts||$877,408,000||+25.1%|
|70||Medication mixes in dosage||$867,094,000||-16%|
|71||Yarn wash/clean/iron machines||$847,992,000||-2.7%|
|72||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$812,845,000||+50.5%|
|73||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$791,110,000||-39.4%|
|74||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$770,986,000||-20.6%|
|75||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$761,670,000||+0.3%|
|77||Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms||$742,118,000||-24.2%|
|78||Lead ores, concentrates||$727,907,000||-1.5%|
|79||Base metal mountings, fittings||$724,227,000||-5.6%|
|80||Vulcanized rubber items||$715,665,000||-16.1%|
|81||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$705,310,000||-1.2%|
|82||Radar, radio communication items||$696,700,000||-34.5%|
|84||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$680,771,000||-14.3%|
|85||Unrecorded sound media||$640,940,000||-5.2%|
|88||Iron and steel stoves, barbecues||$631,910,000||+1.4%|
|89||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$631,872,000||-6.3%|
|90||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$626,533,000||+27.1%|
|91||Other organic cleaning preparations||$624,632,000||+14.5%|
|92||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$618,262,000||-9.8%|
|94||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$604,549,000||-27.1%|
|95||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$604,353,000||-10.1%|
|97||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$586,257,000||+3.3%|
|98||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$580,733,000||-3.7%|
|99||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$577,093,000||-10.2%|
|100||Waters with added sugar||$571,480,000||+12.6%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$329.8 billion or 78.9% by value for all products exported from Mexico during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Mexico’s total exported goods represent 16% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($2.614 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 16% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2020 compares to 18% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing 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 3.9% for 2020 down from 4.7% in 2019, 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 May 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mexico. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 25, 2021