Main agricultural export markets of the US in 2016 and 2015 – How big is Mexico?



Some basic facts

  • In 2016, the agricultural exports of the US stood at 129.7 billion dollars (BD). The five main export markets were Canada (15.7%), China (14.8%), Mexico (13.6%), the European Union 28 (9.0%), and Japan (8.2%), representing 61.2% of the total.

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  • Agricultural exports fell 7.2% annually, making it the second decrease in a row, and 14.8% less than the maximum reached in 2014 (152.3 BD).
  • Out of the 15 most important US agricultural export markets, Mexico had the largest increase in market share in 2016 (0.73%) from 12.88% in 2015 to 13.61% in 2016.
  • In 2016, the Mexican market accounted for US agricultural exports the combined sum of the European Union 28 and South Korea or the equivalent of agricultural exports to Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

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Why is Mexico an outstanding agricultural export market for the US?

  • Since 2001, Mexico has ranked as the second (2005-2009) or third largest agricultural export market of the US (2001-2004 and 2010-2016). During the first years of the implementation of NAFTA (1994-2000) and even before (1991-1993), Mexico was the fourth largest US export market.
  • Furthermore, more than 11% of the total US agricultural exports to the world have been directed to Mexico since 1998. Therefore, any disruption or a sudden contraction of the Mexican market could have considerable and dreadful consequences in the agricultural landscape of the US, from the Corn Belt States to the milk and dairy producers in California and Wisconsin; from apples in Washington State to poultry, pig and beef meats all around the US, and this is especially harmful after two years of contracting US agricultural exports in all major world markets (China, Canada, Mexico, the EU, Japan, and South Korea).
  • In summary, Mexico has been for more than 25 years a reliable and dependable agricultural export market for a wide range of American farmers and producers.

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  • From a pure mercantilist point of view, the US has enjoyed a clear advantage in this sector vis-à-vis Mexico. From 1990 to 2016, the US has recorded 24 years of surpluses, while Mexico has had surpluses in only 3 years: 1995, 2015, and 2016, and only after the peso has suffered significant depreciation episodes…and the most recent partially caused by Mr. Trump and his big ideas of how to generate a prosperous North American region.
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