Mexico Overview: Economy

From the mid-1940s through the 1970s, Mexico’s economy grew considerably, especially in industry and petroleum (oil). In the 1980s, global oil prices fell, and the Mexican economy suffered 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.

About 20% of the workers are farmers. Agriculture in Mexico depends largely on wide-spread irrigation to produce corn, wheat, rice, beans, cotton, coffee, fruit, sugar, and tomatoes. Livestock, dairy farming, and fishing are also significant economic activities.

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

The second most important export is products from 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. The factories produce food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, refined petroleum and petrochemicals, textiles and clothing, and cars. The country is also known for its handicrafts, especially pottery, woven goods, and silverwork.

Tourism is also important to the Mexican economy.

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

Source: Mexico Overview: Economy
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