The close proximity to the United States has played an important role for the development of the economy. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, Mexico's share of US imports has increased from 7% to 12%. Agriculture represents about 13.7% of all sectors of the economy, employing 13.7 million people according the figures reported by the Central Intelligence Agency, World Fact Book.
Mexico, for the 2011-2012 coffee crop reported a production of 5.6 million bags of 60Kg, of which nearly 52% were exported and the balance consumed domestically. It is worth mentioning that despite the small participation of coffee sector in the economy of the country (0.26% as a value of all products exported, 2011), it is a vital product that contributes greatly to the economy of some of the more agriculturally dependent southern estates, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Puebla. In just these four states some 90% of the total coffee output of the country is produced (SIAP 2010).
The demand for Mexican coffees has been mainly for the commodity type with very little differentiation or value added. This situation has contributed to the very little development of the specialty and gourmet sector in all likelihood because only 1/3rd of the production areas are above 900 masl. Of course, in general, it is possible to find some great coffees in the country but very few are of exceptional quality.
Promotion of Mexican coffees in the main consuming countries has been done mainly by the Fairtrade International Organisation (FLO) and their local initiatives predominately in Europe and the United States. Mexican growers have been able to add value to their coffees relying more on the standards and price premiums set by FLO on Fairtrade and Organic coffees rather than the intrinsic quality of the product. The majority of the farmer organisations certified by FLO have been located in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, which are among the poorest states in the country thus making Fairtrade more relevant to the producers. Mexico is within the top five producing countries of Fairtrade and Organic coffee (9000 metric tonnes in 2009/10).
Mexico is located between the United States, Guatemala and Belize. Mexico has access to both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans via the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. This unique location has a great influence on the growing conditions of coffee which in a year can flower 3 to 4 times. The majority of the coffee producing areas are located in one of the most biological diverse ecosystems in the country. According to AMECAFE 40% of the total production of the country is done in the areas classified as high and medium altitude forest, 23% in pine and Encino forest, 21% in low altitude forest and 15% in mesofilo forest. Coffee is produced in 12 states in the mountainous regions mainly of the south-central and south-eastern parts of the country, at altitudes ranging from 400 to 1700 meters above sea level. According to AMECAFE the main producing areas in terms of volume and the number of people involved in the cultivation of the coffee are in the states of Chiapas (545, 936 metric tonnes), Veracruz (335, 483 metric tonnes), Oaxaca (156, 941 metric tonnes), Puebla (100, 292 metric tonnes), Guerrero (49, 558), Nayarit (46, 138 metric tonnes), Hidalgo (27, 541 metric tonnes) and San Luis Potosi (14, 203 metric tonnes).