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Mexico Overview: Economy

From the mid-1940s through the 1970s, Mexico generally enjoyed considerable economic growth, especially in industry and petroleum (oil). In the 1980s global oil prices fell and the Mexican economy built up a large international debt. The economy recovered but went into recession in 2001, mainly because of the economic downturn in the United States.

The Mexican government plays a major role in planning the economy. The government owns and operates some basic industries (including petroleum), but the number of state-owned enterprises has fallen since the 1980s.

About 20% of the country's workers are farmers. Agriculture in Mexico depends largely on extensive irrigation. Mexico produces a wide variety of agricultural products, including corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, cotton, coffee, fruit, sugar, and tomatoes. Livestock, dairy farming, and fishing are also significant economic activities.

Mexico is among the world's leading producers of many minerals, including silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, and natural gas, and its petroleum reserves are one of its most valuable assets. Diversification of industry since the 1980s has helped to keep Mexico's trade economy from being dependent on a single export.

Next to oil, the most important source of exports are the industrial assembly plants known as maquiladoras. Since the early 1980s there has been considerable foreign investment in the maquiladoras, which take advantage of a large, low-cost labor force to produce finished goods for export to the United States. Tourism is also important to the Mexican economy.

Leading products include food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, refined petroleum and petrochemicals, textiles and clothing, motor vehicles, and consumer goods. The country is also known for its handicrafts, especially pottery, woven goods, and silverwork.

Until recently, the annual value of Mexico's imports was much higher than the value of its exports. The United States is by far the largest trade partner, followed by China, Japan, Canada, and the European Union nations.


Source: Mexico Overview: Economy
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