U.S. Relations With Mexico

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
April 1, 2018

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 strong and vital. 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, education exchange, citizen security, drug control, migration, entrepreneurship and innovation, or energy cooperation. The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official relations. It encompasses extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, with some 1.7 billion dollars of two-way trade and hundreds of thousands of legal border crossings each day. In addition, 1.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and Mexico is the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers.

Bilateral Economic Issues

Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market (after Canada) and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). In 2017, two-way trade in goods and services totaled $623 billion. Mexico's exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. About 82 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2017 went to the United States. In 2017, Mexico was the fourth-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. The stock of foreign direct investment by U.S. companies in Mexico stands at $87.6 billion, while reciprocal Mexican investment in the United States is $16.8 billion.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico cooperate on hemispheric and global challenges, such as managing trans-border infectious diseases and seeking greater cooperation to respond to challenges of transnational organized crime.

Mexico is a strong promoter of free trade, maintaining free trade agreements with the most countries of any nation in the world, including pacts with Japan, the EU, and many Latin American partners. In 2012, Mexico joined Chile, Colombia, and Peru to launch an ambitious regional economic integration effort, the Pacific Alliance, focused on liberalizing trade and investment, as well as facilitating the movement of citizens. Eleven Pacific Rim countries, including Mexico, signed the renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership March 8, 2018.

Mexico is a major recipient of remittances, sent mostly from Mexicans in the United States, totaling over $27 billion in 2016. Most remittances are used for immediate consumption—food, housing, health care, education—but some collective remittances, sent from Mexican migrants in the United States 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.

Protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is essential to foster economic growth and innovation. Mexico has seen continued challenges on the IPR front, particularly on enforcement. The 2017 U.S. Trade Representative Special 301 Report, a yearly evaluation of IPR and market access conditions with U.S. trading partners, designated Mexico as a “Watch List” country. The 2017 report noted the widespread availability of pirated and counterfeit goods in Mexico and the lack of coordination between authorities responsible for enforcing IPR. The United States continues to support and urge Mexico to take the necessary steps to improve the IPR protection and enforcement environment in Mexico.

U.S.-Mexico Border

The border region represents a combined population of approximately 15 million people. Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along our border includes coordinating with state and local officials on cross-border infrastructure, transportation planning, and collaboration in institutions that address natural resource, environment, and health issues. In 2010, the United States and Mexico created a high-level Executive Steering Committee for 21st Century Border Management to spur advancements in promoting a modern, secure, and efficient border. The multi-agency U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges and Border Crossings Group meets three times a year to further joint initiatives that 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. We have many mechanisms involving the border region, including Border Master Plans to coordinate infrastructure and development and close collaboration on transportation and customs issues.

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 challenges caused by rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities between the United States and Mexico take place under a number of arrangements, such as the Border 2020 Program; the North American Development Bank; the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation; the Border Health Commission; and a variety of other agreements that address health of border residents, wildlife and migratory birds, national parks, and similar issues. The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), 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. Agreements cover mobile broadband services, including smartphones and similar devices. We continue to hold regular consultations on telecommunications to serve as the primary bilateral arena for both governments to promote growth in this dynamic sector and to help facilitate compatible telecommunications services in border areas.

Education Exchange

The United States has a robust series of exchange programs with Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research expands opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation. The Bilateral Forum complements the U.S. 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which seeks to increase student mobility between the United States and the countries of the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico. Mexico created its own “Proyecta 100,000” program that seeks to send 100,000 Mexican students to the United States and to bring 50,000 U.S. students to Mexico by 2018.

The Fulbright program, initiated in Mexico in 1948, is one of the largest in the world. Since the establishment of the binational Fulbright Commission in 1990 with joint U.S. and Mexican funding, more than 3,500 students on both sides of the border have received Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarships. Fulbright alumni have risen to prominent positions in Mexican business, academics, culture, and politics.

U.S. Security Cooperation with Mexico

Through the Merida Initiative, the United States and Mexico have forged a partnership to combat transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, while strengthening human rights and the rule of law. Merida fosters greater cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges as they share best practices and expand capacity to track criminals, drugs, arms, and money to disrupt the business model of transnational crime. Because of our collaboration, our shared border is more secure, information sharing more fluid, and Mexico now has more professionally trained officials and state-of-the-art equipment to confront transnational crime. Our cooperation with Mexico has never been more vital in the fight to combat the deadly threat of illicit fentanyl, heroin, and synthetic drugs. Merida funding has provided training, equipment, and technical assistance to complement Mexico’s much larger investment in building the capacity of Mexican institutions to counter organized crime, uphold the rule of law, and protect our shared border from the movement of illicit drugs, money, and goods.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs under the Merida Initiative support Mexican efforts to address key challenges to improving citizen security. USAID programs help communities resist the effects of crime and violence and support Mexico’s implementation of criminal justice constitutional reforms that protect citizens’ rights.

Mexico's Membership in International Organizations

Mexico is a strong supporter of the United Nations (UN) and Organization of American States (OAS). Mexico and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Bank (WB); World Trade Organization (WTO); International Maritime Organization (IMO); and the Wassenaar Arrangement on conventional arms.

Bilateral Representation

The Department's Key Officers List includes principal U.S. embassy and consulate officials in Mexico.

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
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 Information
Department of Energy: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Analysis
Department of Commerce: 2014 Mid-Year Review of High Level Economic Dialogue Progress
Trilateral Agreement with United States, Canada, and Mexico to Expand Trusted Traveler Programs