More information about Mexico is available on the Mexico Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S. relations with Mexico are important and complex. The two countries share a 2,000-mile border, and relations between the two have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans--whether the issue is trade and economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the environment. The U.S. and Mexico, along with Canada, are partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and enjoy a broad and expanding trade relationship. Through the North American Leaders’ Summits, the United States, Canada, and Mexico cooperate to improve North American competitiveness, ensure the safety of their citizens, and promote clean energy and a healthy environment. The three nations also cooperate on hemispheric and global challenges, such as managing transborder infectious diseases and seeking greater integration to respond to challenges of transnational organized crime.
U.S. relations with Mexico are important and complex. U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans – whether the issue is trade and economic reform, homeland security drug control, migration, or the environment. The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official contacts. It entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, with over 1.25 billion dollars worth of two-way trade and roughly one million legal border crossings each day. In addition, a million American citizens live in Mexico and approximately 10 million Americans visit Mexico every year. More than 18,000 companies with U.S. investment have operations in Mexico, and U.S. companies have invested $145 billion in Mexico since 2000.
Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along the 2,000-mile common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms; transportation planning; and institutions to address resource, environment and health issues. Presidents Obama and Calderon created a high level Executive Steering Committee for 21st Century Border Management in 2010 to spur advancements in creating a modern, secure, and efficient border. The multi-agency U.S.-Mexico Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings meets twice yearly to improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate planning for new ones. The ten U.S. and Mexican border states are active participants in these meetings. Chaired by U.S. and Mexican consuls, Border Liaison Mechanisms operate in "sister city" pairs and have proven to be an effective means of dealing with a variety of local issues including border infrastructure, accidental violation of sovereignty by law enforcement officials, charges of mistreatment of foreign nationals, and cooperation in public health matters.
The United States and Mexico have a long history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource issues, particularly in the border area, where there are serious environmental problems caused by rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities between the U.S. and Mexico take place under a number of arrangements such as the International Boundary and Water Commission; the La Paz Agreement, the U.S.-Mexico Border 2012/2020 Program; the North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission; the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation; the Border Health Commission; and a variety of other agreements that address border health, wildlife and migratory birds, national parks, forests, and marine and atmospheric resources. The International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, is an international organization responsible for managing a wide variety of water resource and boundary preservation issues.
The two countries also have cooperated on telecommunications services in the border area for more than 50 years. There are 39 bilateral agreements that govern shared use of the radio spectrum. When the United States completed the transition to digital television in 2009, a high percentage of Mexican border cities did the same, well ahead of Mexico’s deadline to complete the transition by 2021. Recent border agreements also cover mobile broadband services, including smartphones, and similar devices. The High Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications continues to serve as the primary bilateral arena for both governments to promote growth in the sector and to ensure compatible services in the border area. The United States and Mexico have also signed an agreement to improve cross-border public security communications in the border area.
U.S. Cooperation with Mexico
The Merida Initiative is an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law. Since 2010, our Merida Initiative cooperation has been organized under four strategic pillars. The first pillar aims to disrupt the capacity of organized crime to operate by capturing criminal groups and their leaders and reducing their revenues through better investigations, successful prosecutions, and shipment interdictions. The initiative’s second pillar focuses on enhancing the capacity of Mexico’s government and institutions to sustain the rule of law. The Merida Initiative’s third pillar aims to improve border management to facilitate legitimate trade and movement of people while thwarting the flow of drugs, arms, and cash. Finally, the fourth pillar seeks to build strong and resilient communities.
U.S. cooperation with Mexico under the Merida Initiative directly supports programs to help Mexico train its police forces in modern investigative techniques, promote a culture of lawfulness, and implement key justice reforms. Merida Initiative assistance also supports Mexico's efforts to reform its judicial sector and professionalize its police forces reflect its commitment to promote the rule of law and build strong law enforcement institutions to counter the threat posed by organized crime. The U.S. Congress has appropriated $1.9 billion for the Merida Initiative since it began.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs support Mexican efforts to address key challenges to improving citizen security and well-being, with program approaches specifically geared to the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Programs under the Merida Initiative develop and test models to mitigate the community-level impact of crime and violence, and support Mexico’s implementation of criminal justice constitutional reforms that protect citizens’ rights. Additional USAID programs support Mexico’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to enhancing economic competitiveness to improve citizens’ lives.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market (after Canada) and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). Mexico's exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. Nearly 80 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2011 went to the United States. In 2011, Mexico was the second-largest supplier of oil to the United States. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include mechanical machinery, electronic equipment, motor vehicle parts, mineral fuels and oils, and plastics. Trade matters are generally settled through direct negotiations between the two countries or addressed via World Trade Organization or NAFTA formal dispute settlement procedures.
Mexican investment in the United States has grown by over 35 percent the past five years. It is the seventh fastest growing investor country in the United States.
Mexico is a major recipient of remittances, sent mostly from Mexicans in the United States. Remittances are a major source of foreign currency, totaling over $22.73 billion in 2011. Most remittances are used for immediate consumption -- food, housing, health care, education -- but some collective remittances, sent from Mexican migrants in the U.S. to their community of origin, are used for shared projects and infrastructure improvements under Mexico’s 3 for 1 program that matches contributions with federal, state and local funds.
Mexico is making progress in its intellectual property rights enforcement efforts, although piracy and counterfeiting rates remain high. Mexico appeared on the Watch List in the 2012 Special 301 report. The U.S. continues to work with the Mexican Government to implement its commitment to improving intellectual property protection.
Mexico's Membership in International Organizations
Mexico is a strong supporter of the United Nations (UN) and Organization of American States (OAS) systems, and hosted the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in June 2012. Mexico and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the UN, OAS, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, G-20, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and World Trade Organization (WTO). In January 2012, Mexico became a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime for conventional arms and dual-use goods.
Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600).
More information about Mexico is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Mexico Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Mexico Page
U.S. Embassy: Mexico
USAID Mexico Page
History of U.S. Relations With Mexico
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Section Page
Travel and Business Information