The U.S. view of Mexico is at its worst level since 1994 and although Americans consider Mexico an important neighbor few Americans are aware of how strong the economic ties are between the two nations.
In general, the perception today in the U.S. of Mexico is not favorable according to a recent study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson Center. On a scale of 0-100 with 0 being very cold and 100 being very warm, Mexico scores a 43. These feelings toward Mexico can be attributed in part to immigration issues and to the escalating level of violence in that country.
According to the public opinion survey conducted in April, a majority of Americans believe that bilateral relations are more important with other countries than they are with Mexico. China is “somewhat important” to the U.S. for 89 per cent of Americans, while only 68 per cent of Americans consider Mexico “somewhat important.”
In terms of being “very important” to the United States, Mexico has declined in the eyes of Americans from 37 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2010. Despite this, fewer Americans believe relations worsened after 2010.
The partnership that the U.S. and Mexico have together is underestimated and underappreciated by most Americans, according to the study. Mexico is the second largest market in the world for U.S. exports and third in in total trade, which reached a record $500 billion in 2012. Seventy per cent of Americans believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been more beneficial to Mexico than to the U.S. since 2004.
At the same time, there has been an increase in the percentage of Americans who say NAFTA has had a good impact on the US economy (50 percent), American companies (55 percent), and in creating new jobs in the U.S. (38 percent). Americans for the most part are generally unaware of the growing bilateral investment between the two countries.
“In the past 10 years, investment between Mexico and the United States has increased significantly. In 2011, U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico totaled $91.4 billion, up 8.4 percent from 2010. Mexican FDI in the United States, meanwhile [in 2011], increased 22.2 percent to a total of $13.8 billion,” the survey reported.
Editor’s note: The Wilson Center held a conference on April 26 where experts on U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Central American relations answered media questions. Listen to the podcast here.