Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mexico Business Etiquette: What to Wear

Figuring out what to wear can be difficult anywhere, but how should you dress when you are doing business in Mexico?  I always tell people who are doing business in Mexico to err on the conservative side, but make sure you are dressing appropriately for your line of work and location. 

For example, if you are meeting with a real estate developer in Cancun, as a male you would want to wear something more casual, like a guayabera and linen pants.  Ladies should wear either a dress or a skirt and nice top.

If you are doing business with anyone in Mexico City, the standard for men is a suit and tie (YES I said tie :)) and the standard for women is a nice blouse with dress pants or a conservative dress.  If it is a more relaxed environment, men should still wear a long sleeve button down, as short sleeves are considered for the beach areas.

The other big cities in Mexico, Monterrey and Guadalajara, seem to have a less formal dress code overall and that is partly to do with the weather being warmer.  Women put a big effort into their appearance all over Mexico which means hair is done, lots of makeup, and jewelry.  You will find that both men and women love fragrance in Mexico,

Please never, ever, ever under any circumstances wear shorts unless you are at the beach on vacation in Mexico!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Headhunters in Mexico

Whether you are looking to fill a position for your business or just looking for a change of career yourself, headhunters are a great resource to use.  In the United States, headhunters are a dime a dozen.  Between staffing agencies and boutique firms, there are a number of options to choose from to suit your needs.  Finding a headhunter in a foreign country who really knows what they are doing isn't easy.  Below I've compiled a list of some of the best headhunters in Mexico:

Barbachano International -

Korn Ferry -

Shore -

Smith Search -

Heidrick & Struggles -

QualiFind -

Each of these headhunters has expertise in a certain area.  Hiring for a position at a multinational in Mexico City requires a different skill set than hiring a factory manager for your maquiladora in Mexicali.  Mexican labor law can be complicated, so it is best to consult with a Mexican headhunter to learn about all of the ins and outs of employment law. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mexico #1 for lowest corporate taxes according to KPMG

Viva Mexico!  KPMG has listed Mexico as the number one nation for lowest corporate taxes.  Number 2?  Canada, another NAFTA partner. 

The study takes into consideration capital tax, income tax, sales tax, property tax, local business taxes and taxes related to labor.  Mexico has a flat sales tax, called IVA (impuesto al valor agregado) which this year rose to 16%. 

The US is automatically scored at 100, while Mexico had an overall score of 59.9 and Canada 63.9.

Here are the top 10 corporate tax friendly nations according to KPMG:

1. Mexico
2. Canada
3. Netherlands
4. Australia
5. UK
6. US
7. Germany
8. Italy
9. Japan
10. France

If you would like to read more about the tax study and Mexico, please click here.

Mexico has its eye on Russia

Mexico's SAGARPA (Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development)  are currently participating in a trade mission to Moscow, Russia.  The purpose of the trade mission was to promote Mexican meat and produce in Russia, while Mexican buyers are looking at Russian minerals and wheat.  There are 38 small businesses from Mexico participating in the trade mission.

Mexico has a good history of trade relations with Russia.  Mexico is considered a "favored nation" in Russia, which means it enjoys discounts on trade tariffs of up to 25%.

A few trade facts about Russia:
  • Russia is the world's 5th largest food importer
  • Trade between Mexico and Russia grew 79% from 2000 to 2007
  • Russia is part of the BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) economic block
  • Russia's main exports include: aluminium, steel, nickel, copper, helicopters and plastic
  • Russia's main imports include: automobiles, machinery, televisions, medicine

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weekly Currency Update: Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso is trading today at $12.71 MXN = $1 USD.

This week's important economic events:

  • Declining sales of US homes sparks fears that recovery in the US (and subsequently Mexico) could be slower than expected
  • China relaxed the Yuan's fixed rate
  • Mexican stocks end higher, led by America Movil and Bimbo
  • Recovery in Mexico bank lending supposed to see double digit growth in 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manufacturing Coming Back to Mexico

Recently I've come across several articles that discuss how many American companies are bringing their manufacturing BACK to Mexico from Asia.  While many people considered China to be the lowest cost option for their manufacturing needs, China has now surpassed Mexico in terms of manufacturing affordability.

One of the great advantages that Mexico has over China when it comes to outsourcing is its proximity to the US.  Need an emergency shipment?  Your goods can be flown in within a couple of hours.  Another huge advantage are that the US and Mexico share the same time zones.  Most of Mexico is on Central time, which makes working with both coasts very easy.  When you are under tight deadlines, having to stay up late or wait an entire day for a response can break you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mexico Business Etiquette: Ready, Set, WAIT!

It's 9:50am.  You arrive at the building, excited at the prospect of the business relationship you are about to develop in Mexico.  You give your name to the receptionist and let her know you are there for your 10am meeting.  She politely smiles and tells you to have a seat.  You sit down and start thumbing through the industry magazines on the table next to you.  10am comes and goes, 10:15...10:30...10:45...What is going on?  You start to tap your feet and try to make eye contact with the receptionist who is busy doing her own thing.  Did he forget the meeting?  Surely not, you confirmed a couple of days ago.  Did something else come up?  Not likely - or the receptionist would have told you.

For those doing business in Mexico this is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn - the difference in the concept of time.  Sometimes the wait is intentional.  For example, many times retail buyers will make you wait on purpose just to show you how "important" they are.  Silly power trip?  Yes, but it is a way of life in Mexico and you must learn to roll with it if you are going to be successful.  Other times, the wait is due to circumstances out of their control, like traffic.  In Mexico City, sometimes going to the same place can take 30 minutes or up to 2 hours!  Imagine trying to plan your day knowing that. 

My advice for foreigners doing business in Mexico?  Be patient, learn to go with the flow, and always bring something to read! :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

SEP backtracks on banning junk food from Mexican schools

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the SEP (Secretariat of Public Education ) had agreed to eliminate junk food from Mexico's schools.  This was seen as a positive step in the fight against childhood obesity and diabetes.  It seems as though the junk food giants have "convinced" the SEP and the SSA (Secretary of Health) to backtrack.

The original plan would pull cakes and fried foods, like potato chips, from schools starting at the beginning of the 2010 school year.  The Secterary of Health, Jose Angel Cordova, claims that the producers of such foods require more time to adjust to the new requirements and work on making their products healthier.  So, what will be pulled from schools when classes start up this fall?  All drinks with added sugar which include sodas, fruit juices, and nectars.  One of the immediate responses from the snack industry will be to change the sizes of their products.

Currency Update: Mexican Peso

The peso is trading at $12.53 MXN = $1 USD today.

Events that affected the peso this week:

  • Stocks in the European Union were up this week, easing worldwide fears
  • The Central Bank of Mexico held rates steady, said that inflation was "benign"
  • Fall in US housing starts
  • Consumers prices fall more than forecast

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Medical Tourism in Mexico

The average cost of a knee replacement for an uninsured patient in the United States is around $40,000.  What does the same surgery cost at one of Mexico's top hospitals?  Around $11,500.  More and more foreigners are seeking medical and dental care in Mexico.  More than half of Americans that file for bankruptcy say that medical bills were a factor! Many Mexican hospitals have state of the art equipment and doctors who have trained at the world's best medical schools, so its no surprise that people are seeking out care abroad. 

For uninsured Americans, traveling to Mexico for surgery is a great cost savings alternative.

Medical Procedure           USA              Mexico

Angioplasty                Up to $57,000     $17,100

Heart Bypass              Up to $144,000   $21,100

Heart Valve Replacement Up to $170,000     $31,000

Knee Replacement Up to $50,000           $11,500

Hip Resurfacing          Up to $30,000+     $13,400

Hip Replacement         Up to $43,000      $13,800

Special Fusion             Up to $100,000     $8,000

Face Lift                       Up to $15,000       $8,000

Rhinoplasty                  Up to $8,000         $5,000

Lap Band/Bariatric      Up to $30,000       $9,200

Hysterectomy               Up to $15,000       $7,500

Dental Implant             $2,000-10,000       $1,000

Some of the top hospitals in Mexico are:

Christus Muguerza - branches throughout Mexico
Hospital Angeles - branches throughout Mexico
ABC Hospital (American-British Cowdray) - Mexico City

I have personally been to the ABC Hospital in Mexico City and I can attest that I received outstanding care at a fraction of the price. 

Below is a video of the Christus Muguerza Hospital in Monterrey:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mexico Retail News: Chilean Retailer Ripley Ends Deal with Palacio de Hierro

Ripley, a Chilean department store, has ended a proposed deal with Mexican department store retailer El Palacio de Hierro.  The deal, signed in 2007, would have had Ripley investing a total of $400 million USD over a 4 year period.  Both retailers decided it was best to hold off until both countries economies have recovered. 

The two retail groups were going to target Mexico's rising middle class.  Although the deal was called off, both Palacio and Ripley have not ruled out the possibility of a deal together in the future.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Organic Market in Mexico

Did you know that 85% of Mexico's organic produce is exported to the United States and other countries?

Here are some interesting facts about Mexico's organic market:

-General public in Mexico does not understand the benefits or value of organic products yet

-A few years ago, organic farmers markets started popping up, mostly in southern states like Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz

-Mexico leads the world in export of organic coffee, honey, and agave syrup

-Sales of organic products in supermarkets and department stores grew 20% last year in Mexico

-Aserca and Sagarpa (Mexican govt agencies) are pushing for higher organic consumption in Mexico

-Mexican schools recently banned the sale of junk food
What will it take to increase consumption of organic food in Mexico?  Education, education, education!  Consumers need to be educated on the benefits of organic produce and other organic food.  Once they are educated as to the benefits of organic food, they will be more likely to try it.  Price is also a factor.  In a country where Coca-Cola is cheaper than bottled water, producers, government agencies, and retailers will have to work together to make organic food more accessibly priced. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Setting Up: What is a Notario?

When you move to Mexico and start doing business here, you will hear the word notario all the time.  There is much confusion as to what a notario is and what the difference is between a notario and a lawyer. 

If you are going to be incorporating in Mexico, you must have a notario take care of your articles of incorporation.  Technically, someone else in the Notary's office may prepare the paperwork, but when all is said and done the notario is the only one who can sign the documents as an official witness that they are valid.

Many people from the US get confused when they hear the word "notary".  In the US, anyone who takes a test and passes can become a public notary.  Please note that a notary in the US is NOT the same as a notario.  In Mexico, a notario is a very respected and coveted position, one which requires legal studies.  There are a limited number of notario positions in the country (depending on location and population) and notarios must undergo a difficult exam and qualification process.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Market Research in Mexico

One of the main stumbling blocks that companies who wish to enter the Mexican market face is the lack of available market research.  In the US, let's say you want to find out what the market is like for nutraceuticals.  By simply typing "US nutraceuticals market 2010" into Google or any other search engine, you are bombarded with results including papers, opinions, professional market research studies, publications from associations, etc.  Do the same search for Mexico and your search results are likely to be limited or unreliable.  Your product or service may be perfect for the Mexican market, but how will you know if you haven't done any market research?  In today's uncertain times, it is crucial to do your homework before taking a leap like launching your product in a different country.

Another common issue for companies doing business in Mexico is gaining access to much needed information.  Let's say you have an accessories line that you would like to sell in department stores and small boutiques in Mexico.  Finding the department store information is not difficult, but the boutiques???  Nearly impossible.  Most boutiques in Mexico are independently owned and operated and do not have an online presence.  It is crucial to be in Mexico to gather this kind of information. 

If you require market research in Mexico, please contact me at elizabeth (@) and let me know how I can help you!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Weekly Currency Update: Peso

The Mexican Peso is trading at $12.78 MXN = $1 USD.

Events this week that affected the peso:
  • Lower consumer prices tumbled more than predicted
  • Increased crude oil prices
  • Speculations that the Central Bank may not increase interest rates
  • Threat of debt crisis spreading further across Europe

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mexico's Retail Wars: Wal Mart vs. Soriana

In the past couple of weeks, TV commercials have been running in what seems to be the beginning of a new retail war - Wal Mart vs. Soriana.   

Wal Mart is going after Soriana's clients with spots that show Soriana customers comparing their grocery receipts with Wal Mart receipts for the same items.   The campaign is called "Desafio de Tickets", loosely translated as the "Receipt Challenge".

When Soriana purchased the Gigante stores, it became Mexico's second largest retailer.  People recognize Wal Mart as the low cost leader, but Soriana is a force to be reckoned with. 

The commercials have caught the attention of Mexico's PROFECO (Federal Bureau of Consumer Interests) who claim that the ads are misleading and after an investigation found several irregularities.

Soriana has accepted the challenge and launched their own commercial in response (sorry for the poor quality video):

Monday, June 7, 2010

Resources for Foreigners Moving to Mexico

Moving in general can be overwhelming, but when you are moving to another country, the stress level goes through the roof.  Which neighborhood should you live in?  If you have kids, where should you put them in school?  Are there any churches nearby with services in your native language?  Which hospital should you go to if anything bad should happen?  The questions are endless.  If you don't have time to explore your new city on a visit, your best bet are online resources.  Below I have compiled a list of the best resources for living in Mexico (in no particular order):

Solutions Abroad

Solutions Abroad is one of the most comprehensive resources for foreigners living in Mexico.  On the website, you can find everything from cost of living information to recommendations for cross-cultural coaching programs.

Escape Artist

Escape Artist has a compilation of articles and resources for those thinking about moving to Mexico (and other countries).  One of the great things about Escape Artist is that the articles are actually written by people who live and work in Mexico.  The articles cover even the most remote beach cities, and not just the big metro areas like Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

Expat Women

If you are a woman, single or married, planning a move to Mexico then is a must.  Not only does the site provide valuable information on relocation, it also provides tips on how to deal with homesickness and culture shock.  In addition, you can read success stories of other women who have been successful in creating a business abroad.

These are just a few of the many sites that provide valuable resources for foreigners moving to Mexico.  If you are being moved by a company, then you will probably have a relocation company take care of all of the details for you and won't have to worry about much.  I highly recommend doing as much research as possible before your move so that you are more well prepared for the changes that you will experience. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

US Exports up 16.7% in the First Quarter

Exports from the US were up 16.7% in the first quarter of 2010, which means the US is on track to double exports in 5 years as proposed by President Obama.

Data highlights include:

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) last week announced that U.S. exports totaled $434 billion during the January-March period of 2010, up 16.7 percent from the same period of 2009.

The largest percentage increases occurred in Taiwan (80%), Korea (66.2%), Malaysia (49.2%) and China (46.6%)
*info from
US Pork exports to Mexico exploded in the first quarter of 2010, valued at nearly $195 million.

The dollar value of pork exports to Mexico almost doubled from 2009.

“The growth we have achieved for U.S. pork in Mexico is just terrific,” said USMEF Chairman Jim Peterson, a rancher from Buffalo, Mont. “About this time last year, we were facing the A-H1N1 crisis and pork demand in Mexico looked like it might be in serious jeopardy. But we worked very hard to educate consumers and the trade there to keep the market open and maintain consumer confidence in our product. As a result, Mexico is now our leading volume market for U.S. pork. And now that prices are improving we’re seeing sustained buying at higher prices, which gives us impressive gains in export value.”  (from Pork News Source)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

GOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!!: The World Cup effect on business in Mexico

Every 4 years, one of the biggest sporting events in the world takes place - the World Cup aka, el Mundial. 

This is unlike any other sporting event in the world.  Productivity goes down, people call in "sick" from work, restaurants and bars are overflowing with patrons, and there is a feeling of excitement in the air.  Anyone who is doing business in Mexico or working with Mexico must be aware of the magnitude of this event.  Unlike the Superbowl, the World Cup is a month long event with teams from 32 countries.  Some companies have even gone so far as to install TVs at work just so that their employees will show up on the game days!

This year, the World Cup takes place in South Africa.  Below I've listed the dates that Mexico plays:

June 6th @ 9am - Mexico vs. South Africa
June 17th @ 1:30pm - Mexico vs. France
June 22nd @ 9am - Mexico vs. Uruguay

Don't even think about scheduling a meeting during the days that Mexico is playing!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Expo Alimentaria

The Expo Alimentaria is going on this week in Mexico City (June 1-3).  Participants come from all over the world to display the latest and greatest food and beverage products. 

This expo is ideal for retail buyers, restaurant owners, or anyone involved in the food business.  There are special programs for wine tastings, plus a number of interesting seminars with chefs, buyers, and other industry superstars.

The Expo Alimentaria is being held in the conveniently located Centro Banamex (Hipodromo).