Region/Countries: Mexico, North America Industry: Other Date: May 2023

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin has expertise in automotive and industrial fabrics, as well as industrial machinery.

Mexico is a significant player in the textile industry, in terms of both producing fabric and manufacturing clothing. Even so, the U.S. government has identified textiles as a “best prospect industry” for American companies looking to sell their goods in Mexico.

In 2020, fabric production in Mexico generated more than $3 billion, or 1.3% of the country’s manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP), ranking it the 10th-largest manufacturing industrial sector. However, that’s lower than the 1.7% of the manufacturing GDP textile production represented 10 years earlier.

Employment in the textile industry also has shrunk. In 2019 (the most recent data available), 208,000 people worked in Mexico’s textile industry—30,000 fewer than 10 years earlier—and nearly half of the jobs are held by women.

Nearly 60% of fabric manufacturing uses materials provided within Mexico, while about 40% is imported. Textile imports from the U.S. have declined in recent years while imports from China have increased.

However, Mexico has been the top export market for U.S. specialty and industrial fabrics since 2008, and it is also the largest market for U.S. medical textiles, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA).

The ITA says fabrics for upholstery used in automotive and aerospace production are needed in Mexico as those sectors have grown, and domestic producers cannot keep up with the demand for yarn, creating a need for imports.

In addition, the U.S. is the second-largest supplier of textile machinery to Mexico, and midsize and large companies are investing in new equipment to improve their production and supply chains. There could be opportunities to participate in product design and technology advancements to accelerate yarn and textile production processes, the ITA says.