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 with 55 active land ports of entry, 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, human trafficking, entrepreneurship, innovation, energy cooperation, or public health. The scope of relations between the United States and Mexico is broad and goes beyond diplomatic and official relations. It encompasses extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, with $1.7 billion of two-way trade and during normal economic and health times, there are hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border legally each day. In addition, 1.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and Mexico is the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers.
The United States is working closely with the Mexican government and partners to combat the pandemic and reduce secondary economic impacts in both countries. In March 2020, the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to restrict non-essential travel across borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while addressing the economic effects resulting from reduced mobility along the shared border. Additionally, the countries have held frequent coordination calls between high-level officials to discuss challenges and share information about the global pandemic while planning for safely re-opening the economies and commerce. The two countries have enabled the return home of thousands of their respective citizens; facilitated the maintenance of critical supplies of vital protective equipment and medical supplies; and ensured foreign citizens employed in essential economic sectors in the respective countries have been able to continue working under clear sanitary guidelines.
Bilateral Economic Issues and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
Mexico is the United States’ second largest trading partner and second-largest export market (after Canada). In 2019, two-way trade in goods totaled $614.5 billion. Mexico’s exports rely heavily on supplying the U.S. market, but the country has also sought to diversify its export destinations. About 80 percent of Mexico’s exports in 2018 went to the United States. In 2019, Mexico was the second-largest supplier of foreign crude oil to the United States, as well as the largest export market for U.S. refined petroleum products and U.S. natural gas. Other top U.S. exports to Mexico include machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles, mineral fuels, and plastics. The stock of foreign direct investment by U.S. companies in Mexico stands at $114.9 billion, while reciprocal Mexican investment in the United States was $18.7 billion in 2018.
In 2020, all three countries began implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to address the needs of the twenty-first century economy and the trilateral Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) to develop an updated framework for environmental cooperation between the three countries. The USMCA entered into force on July 1, 2020. The USMCA will support mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America. The agreement is expected to generate job opportunities; improve worker protections; prevent forced labor; increase agricultural trade; produce new investments in vital manufacturing industries; protect intellectual property rights; create a similar set of environmental standards across the three countries; and move digital trade protections into the 21st century. A key requirement of USMCA is a formal review of the agreement at least every six years. These periodic reviews are designed to ensure that the terms of the agreement remain beneficial for all parties, and to identify emerging issues for potential revisions. The agreement is set to terminate on July 1, 2036 but can be extended for an additional 16 years by all three countries after each review.
Mexico is a strong promoter of free trade, maintaining free trade agreements with more countries than any nation in the world, including pacts with Japan, the European Union, 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.
The United States and Mexico released a joint declaration in June 2019 to address the shared challenges of irregular migration. In this declaration, Mexico committed to increasing enforcement to curb irregular migration, supporting the U.S. expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) across the U.S. southern border, and offering jobs, healthcare, and education to migrants returned pursuant to MPP. From June 2019 to
May 2020, Mexico apprehended 145,682 migrants, contributing to a significant decrease in irregular migrant arrivals to the United States.
The United States and Mexico recognize the strong links between promoting development and economic growth in southern Mexico and the success of promoting prosperity, good governance, and security in Central America. The United States and Mexico welcome the Comprehensive Development Plan launched by Mexico in concert with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to promote these goals. The United States and Mexico will engage with regional and international partners to build a more prosperous and secure Central America to address the underlying causes of migration, so that citizens of the region can build better lives for themselves and their families at home
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 security, as well as collaboration with institutions that address migration, 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. There are many mechanisms involving the border region, including Border Master Plans to coordinate infrastructure and development and close collaboration on transportation and customs issues.
High-level representatives from the U.S. and Mexican governments met on March 4, 2020, in Mexico City for the 12th Plenary Meeting of the 21st Century Border Management Initiative Executive Steering Committee to encourage increased bilateral collaboration on key issues affecting the countries’ shared border. At this meeting, the delegations approved the 21st Century Border Management Initiative Strategy. This strategy provides a framework to collaborate more closely on promoting the shared border as a safe and competitive region, while also highlighting the key role it plays in the economic development and well-being of its communities.
To that end, the delegations also adopted Action Plans to guide bilateral efforts to modernize and expand ports of entry along the shared border; facilitate the flow of trade and travelers between the two countries; and strengthen cooperation on public safety in the border region.
The United States and Mexico also 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 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, 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 U.S. and Mexican Sections of the IBWC work closely to distribute treaty-stipulated portions of water from the Rio Grande and Colorado River to both countries. The IBWC also works to mitigate and prevent cross-border flows of untreated wastewater. In that capacity, the U.S. Section of IBWC is one of EPA’s lead partners in planning and implementing construction of major wastewater infrastructure – particularly in the Tijuana-San Diego area – under a $300 million appropriation provided as part of the USMCA implementation act.
The two countries have also cooperated on telecommunications services in the border area for more than 50 years. Agreements cover mobile broadband services, including smartphones and similar devices. The United States and Mexico continue to hold regular consultations on telecommunications to promote growth in this dynamic sector and to help facilitate compatible telecommunications services in border areas.
U.S. Security Cooperation with Mexico
The United States leverages foreign assistance and diplomacy with Mexico to reduce the impact of illicit drugs on U.S. communities; dismantle criminal organizations; help Mexico manage migration; and improve the effectiveness of Mexico’s criminal justice to better prevent, investigate, and prosecute crime. U.S.-funded training, equipment, and technical assistance complement Mexico’s own investment in building the capacity of Mexican institutions and personnel to achieve these goals. Because of this collaboration, the 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. Cooperation between Mexico and the United States has never been more vital in the fight to combat the deadly threat of illicit fentanyl, heroin, and synthetic drugs.
In 2019, Mexican authorities maintained law enforcement cooperation on human trafficking cases with the United States, which included the extradition of two traffickers to the United States; the successful prosecution of a Tlaxcala sex trafficking ring; prosecution training that led to the successful convictions with 15-, 18-, and 43-year prison sentences of three traffickers from the State of Mexico; and information assistance on three additional trafficking cases. Since 2002, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has funded over 40 projects in Mexico totaling $12.7 million, second among all countries receiving funding. It is currently funding an organization to address trafficking in persons in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras by increasing the governments’ capacity to combat trafficking in persons, creating a regional network for victim referral, and improving comprehensive victim services.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs support Mexican efforts to address key challenges to improving citizen security. USAID programs help communities resist the effects of crime and violence while supporting Mexico’s implementation of criminal justice constitutional reforms that protect citizens’ rights.
Educational and Cultural Exchanges
The United States has a robust series of educational and cultural programs with Mexico. These programs work with young leaders, students, civil society, and entrepreneurs. They provide English language learning, advance STEM education, strengthen civil society, provide exchange opportunities, and expand economic opportunity. They include music and sports diplomacy; the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation; the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) leadership programs like Jóvenes en Acción (Youth in Action); the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI); the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), which target indigenous and Afro-Mexican populations; and English language programs such as the Access program and English Language Fellows and Specialists.
The U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) expands opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation. The Bilateral Forum complements the goals of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K) Innovation Fund, the Department’s signature hemispheric education initiative. The 100K Innovation Fund is the trusted, flexible public/private sector mechanism between the Department, U.S. embassies, non-governmental organizations, companies, foundations, and higher education institutions (HEIs) that stimulates and supports HEI-partnerships to create new models of short-term academic exchange and training opportunities for teams of students in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico.
After six years (2014-2020), Mexico is the leading country in this hemispheric-wide initiative to partner with U.S. universities, colleges, and community colleges. To date, a total of 60 Innovation Fund grant-winning teams between HEIs in both countries are working across nine Mexican states and 24 U.S. states to provide academic training to underserved students to gain technical skills and prepare for the workforce in areas such as public health, STEM, sustainable agriculture, technology, business development, education, and others. Leading private sector partners who have contributed to the 100K Innovation Fund from Mexico include Banorte, Gruma, Coca-Cola, Televisa, and Jenkins Foundation.
The Fulbright program, initiated in Mexico in 1948, is one of the largest in the world. The U.S.-Mexico Binational Fulbright Program (Fulbright-Garcia-Robles) is one of the largest in the world, sending about 100 grantees in each direction and receiving approximately $5 million annually in contributions from the Governments of the United States and Mexico. 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.
The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Mexico treaty on the recovery and return of stolen archaeological, historical, and cultural properties. This was the first international treaty related to cultural property trafficking. Predating the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, this treaty demonstrates both countries’ leadership on this topic.
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. From 2008-2018, the United States has appropriated $2.8 billion in equipment, training and capacity building support under the Merida Initiative. 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 and Organization of American States (OAS). Mexico was elected to a 2021-2022 non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and a 2021-2023 seat on the UN Economic and Social Council. Mexico and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; International Energy Agency (IEA); International Monetary Fund; World Bank; World Trade Organization; International Maritime Organization; and the Wassenaar Arrangement on conventional arms. Mexico is the 2020 President pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Department’s Key Officers List includes principal U.S. embassy and consulate officials in Mexico.
More information about Mexico is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: