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Tied together by both an accident of geographic proximity and through the deliberate integration institutionalized in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic accords, the United States and Mexico have seen their economies become deeply intertwined. Since the 1990s, trade between the United States and Mexico has grown tremendously, with bilateral goods and services trade in 2015 reaching a total six times greater than before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in 1993. In 2015, bilateral trade reached $584 billion dollars, meaning that the United States and Mexico trade more than a million dollars’ worth of goods and services every minute. The United States is Mexico’s top export market, and Mexico is the second-largest foreign buyer of U.S. goods, second only to Canada. The bilateral trade relationship is enormous in size, and the U.S. and Mexican economies each depend significantly upon one another.

The crux of the partnership, though, lies in the way that cooperation within North America supports the region’s competitiveness in the global economy. The U.S.-Mexico economic partnership has the potential to play a key role in boosting regional exports to the rest of the world, which would support job growth in the United States and Mexico while helping to address the trade deficits currently run by both countries.

"Leveraging the U.S.-Mexico Relationship to Strengthen Our Economies," was written by Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute. In this policy brief, Wilson explores the bilateral economic relationship and suggests several priority areas for the binational agenda.

This policy brief is the fifth of our series "Charting a New Course: Policy Options for the Next Stage in U.S.-Mexico Relations." The policy briefs will be released individually and published as a volume in the spring of 2017.

About the Author

Christopher Wilson

Christopher Wilson

Global Fellow, Mexico Institute
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more