Mexico is the United States’ 3rd largest trade partner and 2nd largest export market for U.S. products.
Doing Business in Mexico
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was enacted in 1994 and created
a free trade zone for Mexico, Canada, and the United States, is the most important feature in
the U.S.-Mexico bilateral commercial relationship. Mexico is the United States’ 3 largest
trade partner and 2 largest export market for U.S. products. U.S-Mexico bilateral trade
increased from $88 billion in 1993, the year prior to the implementation of NAFTA, to $460
billion in 2011, an increase of 423 percent.
Mexico is the most populated Spanish speaking country in the world and has 112 million
people with 78% living in urban areas. 10% of the population is considered wealthy class and
about 45% in poverty earning less than USD $10 per day. The remaining 45% of the population
is considered middle class. Mexico has a very young population with a median age of 27. It
offers a large market with a GDP of approximately USD $1.1 trillion. Per capita income is USD
$15,100. With a shared Western and Hispanic culture U.S. producers find it easier to market
and sell their services and products in Mexico.
There is a large installed base of manufacturing in a wide range of sectors. Mexico is a stable
democracy. Mexico has bounced back strongly from 2009’s worldwide recession. In 2011,
Mexico-United States bilateral trade increased by 17 percent from 2010 levels and Mexico’s
GDP increased by 3.9 percent.
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• Mexico’s size and diversity are often under appreciated by U.S. exporters. It can be
difficult to find a single distributor or agent to cover this vast market.
• The Mexican legal system differs in many significant ways from the U.S. system. U.S.
firms should consult with competent legal counsel before entering into any business
agreements with Mexican partners.
• The banking system in Mexico has shown signs of growth after years of stagnation, but
interest rates remain relatively high. In particular, small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) find it difficult to obtain financing at reasonable rates despite
Mexican Government efforts to increase capital for SMEs. U.S. companies need to
conduct thorough due diligence before entering into business with a Mexican firm, and
Do ss 2 ing Busine in Mexico 2012
should be conservative in extending credit and alert to payment delays. As one
element in a prudent due diligence process, the U.S. Commercial Service offices in
Mexico can conduct background checks on potential Mexican partners. U.S. companies
should assist Mexican buyers explore financing options, including Export-Import Bank
• Mexican customs regulations, product standards and labor laws may present pitfalls for
U.S. companies. U.S. Embassy commercial, agricultural and labor attachés are
available to counsel firms with respect to regulations that affect their particular
export product or business interest.
• Mexico will elect a new President on July 1, 2012. Sales to the Mexican federal
government will likely slow down in mid 2012 as a period of transition between
• Violence among transnational criminal organizations has created insecurity in parts of
Mexico, particularly in some border areas. Prior to traveling to Mexico it is strongly
recommended to review the Department of State’s travel guidance related to Mexico:
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• Abundant market opportunities for U.S. firms exist in Mexico; trade totals more than
$1 billion a day between the two countries.
• Mexico’s geographic proximity to the United States has propelled the maquiladora
industry near the U.S.-Mexico border and currently gives U.S. businesses an alternative
to Asia-based manufacturing and opportunities to sell into the supply chain.
• Some of Mexico’s most promising sectors include: agribusiness; auto parts & services;
education services; energy; environmental; franchising; housing & construction;
packaging equipment; plastics and resins; security & safety equipment and services;
technology sectors; transportation infrastructure equipment and services; travel &
tourism services and the agricultural sector.
• A complete list of the top prospects in Mexico is provided in Chapter Four. However,
given the size of the Mexican market, there are numerous other promising prospects,
including food processing equipment, architectural and engineering services and more.
If an industry is not explicitly mentioned as a “best prospect,” it does not necessarily
mean that there are not ample opportunities in the Mexican market.
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Do ng s 3 i Busines in Mexico 2012
Market Entry Strategies
• To do business in Mexico it is key to develop and maintain close relationships with clients
and partners. Mexicans prefer direct communication such as telephone calls or face-to-
face meetings. However, e-mail is widely used.
• Mexican companies are extremely price conscious, seek financing options, tend to desire
exclusive agreements, and value outstanding service and flexibility.
• U.S. firms wishing to export to Mexico will find a variety of market entry strategies. Many
factors help determine the best strategy, such as the product/service, logistics & customs,
distribution, marketing, direct or indirect sales, exporting experience, and language
proficiency, among others.
• The U.S. Commercial Service can assess market potential of products and service, provide
advice on export strategies, and facilitate business agreements with potential clients
and/or partners through our three offices in Mexico: Mexico City, Guadalajara, and
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For More Information
Please contact Stephen Alley, Deputy Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Commercial Service in Mexico at
Steve.Alley@trade.gov or (11-52-55) 5140-2600. You can also visit our website at
The U.S. Commercial Service — Your Global Business Partner
With its network of offices across the United States and in more than 70 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service
of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help
U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist
in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://www.export.gov/eac.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this report is intended to be of assistance to U.S. exporters. While we make every
effort to ensure its accuracy, neither the United States government nor any of its employees make any representation as to the
accuracy or completeness of information in this or any other United States government document. Readers are advised to
independently verify any information prior to reliance thereon. The information provided in this report does not constitute legal
advice. The Commercial Service reference to or inclusion of material by a non-U.S. Government entity in this document is for
informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by the Commercial Service of the entity, its materials, or
its products or services
International copyright, U.S. Department of Commerce, 2012. All rights reserved outside of the United States.