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 bilateral 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 scope of U.S.-Mexican relations is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official contacts, and entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, with over 1.25 billion dollars of two-way trade and roughly one million legal border crossings each day. In addition, a million American citizens live in Mexico. U.S. tourists to Mexico numbered over 20.3 million in 2012 making Mexico the top destination of U.S. travelers. Mexican tourists to the U.S. were about 13.4 million in 2011, and they spent some $9.2 billion.
Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along the common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms; transportation planning; and institutions to address resource, environment and health issues. In 2010, a high level Executive Steering Committee for 21st Century Border Management was created 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 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, created by a treaty between the 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. Recent border agreements 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 are implementing an agreement to improve cross-border public security communications in the border area.
In May 2013, the formation of a Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research was announced. Through this forum, the U.S. and Mexican governments will encourage broader access to quality post-secondary education for traditionally underserved demographic groups, especially in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. They will also seek to expand educational exchanges, promote joint research in areas of mutual interest, and share best practices in higher education and innovation. This work builds upon the many productive educational and research linkages between U.S. and Mexican academic institutions, civil society, and the private sector.
U.S. Security Cooperation with Mexico
The Merida Initiative is an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to address violence and criminality while strengthening the rule of law and the respect for human rights. 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 and the 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. Through fiscal year 2012, the U.S. Congress has appropriated $1.9 billion for the Merida Initiative. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs under the Merida Initiative support Mexican efforts to address key challenges to improving citizen security and well-being, developing and testing 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
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.
Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market (after Canada) and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). In 2012, two-way merchandise trade reached nearly $500 billion. Mexico's exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. Nearly 78 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2012 went to the United States. In 2012, Mexico was the third-largest supplier of foreign crude oil to the United States, as well as the largest export market for U.S. refined petroleum products and a growing market for U.S. natural gas. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include electrical machinery, nuclear equipment, motor vehicle parts, mineral fuels and oils, and plastics. U.S. companies have invested $101 billion in Mexico. Mexican investment in the United States has grown by over 11 percent in the past year to $27.9 billion.
Mexico is a major recipient of remittances, sent mostly from Mexicans in the United States, totaling over $22.4 billion in 2012. 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.
In May 2013, the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) was established to further elevate and strengthen the U.S.-Mexico bilateral commercial and economic relationship. The HLED, which will be led at the cabinet level, is envisioned as a flexible platform intended to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. The HLED is expected to meet annually, starting fall of 2013, to facilitate dialogue and joint initiatives and to promote shared approaches to regional and global economic leadership. It will build on, but not duplicate, a range of existing successful bilateral dialogues and working groups.
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 making progress in its intellectual property rights enforcement efforts, although piracy and counterfeiting rates remain high. The United States placed Mexico on the Watch List in the 2013 Special 301 report. The U.S. continues to work with the Mexican Government to implement its commitment to improving intellectual property protection.
Mexico joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in 2012, which will establish new and higher standards for global trade. In 2012, Mexico joined Chile, Colombia, and Peru to launch an ambitious regional economic integration effort, the Alliance of the Pacific.
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 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 2012, Mexico became a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime for conventional arms and dual-use goods. In 2013, Mexico joined the Australia Group, an informal forum of countries which, through the harmonization of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.
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
Department of Energy: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Analysis
Department of Commerce: Mid-Year Review of High Level Economic Dialogue Progress