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Mexico: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Mexico

Mexicans attach much importance to courtesy and the use of titles. English is widely spoken in business circles although it is naturally appreciated when visitors use a few words of Spanish, at least when introducing themselves. A handshake is customary upon first acquaintance, with men or women. Business wear is relatively formal. Mexicans generally avoid confrontation: if they disagree with a proposal, they rarely express that opinion outright and find it rude when others do so. Sometimes the absence of explicit approval may be interpreted as a refusal.

Office Hours

These vary considerably, but are usually Mon-Fri 0900-1900/2000; lunch breaks usually last an hour but some business lunches can go on for longer.

Economy

The agricultural sector, in decline for decades, now accounts for only 4% of the country's GDP yet employs nearly 20% of the workforce. However, US moves towards ethanol power have pushed up the world price of corn (from which ethanol is produced). Mexico, the birthplace of corn and the world's fourth largest producer, is well placed to benefit.

In the service sector, tourism continues to be Mexico's biggest industry, despite some concerns about national violence, and the effects of the global recession.

Oil and manufacturing are big contributors to the country's economic health, but are at the mercy of price fluctuations, and the state of the US car industry.

Inflation is rising after a 30-year low in 2005 and in 2009 was hovering around 6%. A 30% drop in the peso since August 2008, couple with a collapse in exports to the US and an increase in unemployment due to the economic crisis has left many Mexicans feeling nervous. In 2008, growth was at 2% and unemployment at 4.1%.
Mexico, with its sophisticated conventions infrastructure, is one of the most popular destinations in the world for incentive and business travel. Some of the larger and more modern convention centers include the World Trade Center and Banamex Center, both in Mexico City, the Acapulco Convention Center, and the Cancún Convention Center, with Taxco, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Guadalajara and Mazatlán all boasting good facilities amd convention centres.

GDP

US$1.463 trillion (2010).

Main exports

Oil, manufactured goods, silver, fruit, vegetables and coffee.

Main imports

Agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, car parts, parts for motor vehicles, aircraft and aircraft parts.

Main trading partners

USA, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan.

Keeping in Touch in Mexico

Telephone

Long-distance calls are very expensive.

Mobile Phone

Mobile phones can be purchased inexpensively, and credit can be added by prepaid card. Of the major providers, Telcel has the most thorough coverage. Roaming agreements exist with a few international mobile phone companies but is pricey.

Internet

Internet is available in all regions. Most hotels in the mid-range and above categories provide Wi-Fi or access to connected computer terminals. There are also many inexpensive cyber-cafés in cities and towns throughout Mexico.

Media

The major daily newspapers published in Spanish are El Universal, Excélsior, El Financiero, La Jornada and Reforma, all of which maintain web versions. Local English-language papers include The News, a daily running mostly reports from international wire services, and Inside Mexico, a monthly publication with useful information for tourists and expats. In the 2010 ‘Press Freedom Index', issued by Reporters without Borders, Mexico was close to the bottom of the league in the Americas; only Colombia and Cuba received a lower rank. Mexican reporters who get too close to drug-cartel or political corruption stories have a habit of ending up dead or disappearing, particularly in the north of the country where drug violence is rife.

Post

Airmail to Europe takes about six days. Surface mail is slow, taking weeks if not months. Within the capital, there is an immediate delivery (entrega inmediata) service, which usually takes two or three days.

Post Office hours

Typically Mon-Fri 0900-1700. Some larger branches open on Saturday morning for a reduced range of services. In Mexico City, the Correo Mayor (main post office) is behind the Palacio de Bellas Artes and opens Mon-Sat 0800-2100 and Sun 0800-1900.

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