Polls by Vianovo and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggested that 59% of Americans regard Mexico as a source of problems for the United States while only 14% considered their southern neighbor to be a good neighbor and friend of the United States (The rest said they did not know). The gap between perception and reality regarding Mexico and its importance to the United States continues to exist despite trading numbers telling a different story. By looking at the U.S. Census Bureau trade numbers tell us that Mexico is one of the United States closest partners and that more engagement with the southern neighbor, not less as the polls results suggests, is necessary for both countries to continue to grow and prosper together.

Let’s take a look at these number. By breaking down exports by State, we can see that Mexico’s importance in the U.S. economy goes beyond the southern border. States as far away as Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire have Mexico as their second trading partner. Mexico is the top export destination for the two richest states in the union (California and Texas) and it is the second most important market for TWENTY other states.

Jobs remain the number one issue for the American people. Trade with Mexico is vitally important to the U.S. economy and the livelihood of millions of Americans.  An estimate by the Wilson Center estimates up to 6 million U.S. jobs depend on Trade with Mexico. Furthermore, jobs related to trade with Mexico are geographically spread throughout the nation.  Mexico is the US second largest trading partner regarding exports (third in imports). Since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, Mexican exports to the United States have grown 458%. This translates to growth in opportunities in both sides of the border.

We invite you to play with the data and realize the importance that the southern neighbor has in the US economy. As always, We welcome your comments and feedback.