Economic Analysis
Mexico

Mexico

Population 121.3 million
GDP per capita 8,562 US$
B
Country risk assessment
A4
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Synthesis

MAJOR MACRO ECONOMIC INDICATORS

  2015 2016 2017(f) 2018(f)
GDP growth (%) 2.6 2.3 2.2 2.2
Inflation (yearly average, %) 2.7 2.8 5.9 3.0
Budget balance (% GDP) -3.5 -2.6 -1.5 -2.4
Current account balance (% GDP) -2.5 -2.2 -1.4 -1.6
Public debt (% GDP) 53.7 58.4 53.3 52.4

(f): forecast

 

SECTOR RISK ASSESSMENTS

MexiqueEN

STRENGTHS

  • Geographic proximity to the North American economy
  • Membership of NAFTA, OECD, the G20 and the Pacific Alliance
  • Substantial industrial base
  • Recent improvement in fiscal position

WEAKNESSES

  • High dependence on the United States economy; vulnerable to changes in the NAFTA agreement
  • Rising criminality rate
  • Infrastructure and education weaknesses
  • Oil sector undermined by years of underinvestment

RISK ASSESSMENT

Continued subdued growth in 2018

As in 2017, economic activity is likely to remain subdued in 2018. In 2017, GDP growth contracted in the third quarter (the weakest outcome since the fourth quarter of 2015), partly due to the effects of the damages caused by the two major earthquakes that hit Mexico City and nine of the country’s states. Oil activity and services were particularly affected. In 2018, activity is expected to benefit from reconstruction work and by the generally positive fundamentals of domestic demand. The latter should be driven by a relatively strong job market and by the expected deceleration of inflation (6.4% in 12 months accumulated until October 2017). Moreover, manufacturing output has also benefited from a strong US industrial activity.

However, some downside risks will weigh on activity. Investment growth is set to remain weak, due to the pending presidential elections and the doubts brought by the extension of the NAFTA renegotiation talks (to be concluded in early 2018). Despite the difficulties of reaching an agreement, the most likely scenario is that NAFTA will make only small changes to the current treaty. Monetary policy is expected to ease once uncertainties regarding the Mexican economy have ceased (probably during the second half of 2018).

 

Budget deficit is expected to remain sustainable

Fiscal policy has remained prudent, despite the slump in oil prices. Oil revenues account for roughly a third of government revenue. As such, the drop in its prices has prompted a tightening of the fiscal policy that has been well executed. Fiscal deficit improved to 2.6% of GDP in 2016, from 3.5% in 2015, and is set to reach 1.5% of GDP by the end of 2017 at the time of writing. As recognition of the efforts done, Standard & Poors raised its outlook on Mexico’s credit rating to stable from negative, arguing that it doesn’t expect a material worsening in the country’s debt levels. They praised Mexico’s prompt reaction to recent negative shocks, such as the depreciation of the currency in late 2016. They expect the country to be able to diminish the rapid pace of debt accumulation seen in previous years, helping to stabilize the government’s debt burden.

 

Presidential elections will ensure a heated political environment in the first half of 2018

Mexico will hold presidential elections in July 2018. Mexicans will have to choose the successor of unpopular President Enrique Peña Nieto (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI). After taking office in December 2012, President Peña Nieto signed an agreement with the two main opposition parties (PAN and PRD) to promote political cooperation. Called the “Pact of Mexico”, the agreement allowed the government to pass an ambitious constitutional reform agenda, including reforms for both energy and telecommunications. The reforms aimed to substantially boost the potential GDP. However, the results have been disappointing, and the GDP annual growth rate is expected to average at only 2.3% during President Peña Nieto’s five-year term.

However, the president’s feeble popularity is not only related to sluggish activity: the population is angry about widespread corruption and rising violence. The extension of the NAFTA talks may also disturb the PRI’s presidential campaign in 2018. This scenario creates opportunities for non-traditional candidates in the presidential elections. Although candidates have not yet been officially confirmed, late 2017 polls portray left-wing populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (MORENA party), also known as ALMO, as the frontrunner. In addition, the candidate Margarita Zavala resigned from the PAN after 35 years to run as an independent. This decision may split the PAN votes and, as the country does not have run-off, a more divided centre-right could benefit AMLO. However, a tactical vote cannot be ruled out: voters may choose to support the candidate who has the best chance of beating AMLO.

 

Last update : January 2018

PAYMENT

The most commonly used methods of payment in Mexico are cheques, wire transfers and - in some special cases - credit cards.

In Mexico, the documents most frequently related to commercial transaction are invoices, promissory notes, and cheques. Promissory notes and cheques also serve as certificates of indebtedness. Once buyers possess the relevant information, they can proceed to make payments by wire transfer or cheque, with both methods taking approximately ten to fifteen working days. Wire transfers are more common, as cheques can be post-dated, thus presenting the risk that buyers will issue cheques that they cannot finance.

Promissory notes are unconditional promises, in writing, to pay a person a sum of money. In Mexico, this document is normally used as a guarantee of payment from the buyer. It is signed by the legal representative of the buyer - and hence, the debtor – for an amount which is superior to the total amount of the debt.

Corporate payment processes are governed by companies’ internal policies. Most companies request supporting documentation from the other party before proceeding with a transaction (e.g. the company’s articles of incorporation, or its tax identification, known as the Registro Federal de Contribuyentes).

 

Invoices

Invoices are commercial documents issued by sellers to buyers, which list the goods sent or services provided, along with a statement of the sum due. In terms of debt collection, original invoices act as proof of the acceptance of the debt and the establishment of a commercial relationship between the parties. According to commercial and civil laws, the commercial agreement is sealed by two elements: an object (in this case the product or the service), and the price of the object as agreed by the parties. Even in the absence of a written agreement, an invoice provides both of these elements. Invoices are therefore the most effective form of proof in a lawsuit situation, as they show that the parties made a sale agreement and have a reciprocal obligation to pay the price agreed and to deliver the goods or provide the service.

In 2014, the Mexican Tax Authorities (Servicio de Administraci Servicio de Administración Tributaria, SAT) ruled that all invoices must be electronic, with an XML file. They must also be verified by the tax authority system in order to be validated. The tax authority also requests electronic confirmation when the creditor receives payment, along with a receipt in an XML file as legal confirmation. These new requirements entered into force in December 2017. The goal of these changes is to limit the amount of fraud cases and ghost companies, both of which are prevalent in Mexico.

 

Debt collection

Amicable phase

Before entering into legal proceedings in Mexico, creditors normally attempt to contact their debtors via telephone. If this is unsuccessful, a written letter is sent to the debtor, in which the debtor is notified of the amount of the debt and the creditor’s intentions to negotiate payment terms.

The next step is a visit to the debtor by a collection specialist. During this visit, the collection specialist will attempt to develop a more detailed perspective on the debtor’s situation. The specialist will endeavour to ascertain if the company is still in business and if it has assets (such as real estate, merchandise or other rights) that could be seized in the event of a legal process. The main purpose, however, of such a visit is to understand why debtors did not pay their invoices within the allotted time frame.

Due to the increasing complexity of Mexico’s financial situation, particularly during 2017, amicable settlements have become less and less successful. When creditors initiate collection actions with an amicable phase, it is common for debtor companies to disappear altogether. This means the discontinuation of commercial activities which could potentially enable the payment of sums due. This scenario intensified further towards the end of this year.

When entering into commercial export relationships, companies are advised to ensure that all documentation conforms to Mexican law. A lack of correct information and documentation opens exporters up to the possibility of fraud committed by Mexican companies and reduces the likelihood of successful debt recovery during an amicable phase.

 

Legal proceedings

There are three types of proceedings which can be initiated against debtors:

 

Pre-Legal Process (Medios Preparatorios a Juicio Ejecutivo Mercantil)

This pre–legal process takes place when there is an invoice as a proof of the pending payment and of the commercial relationship. Creditors request that the judge obtains a citation from the debtor or its legal representative. He then obtains the confession and acceptance of debt from the debtor, as well as the pending payment. As the confession before the judge is an executive document, the creditor is then able to initiate the ‘Summary Business Proceeding’ legal process.

This pre–legal process takes approximately two or three months.

 

Summary Business Proceeding

This legal process takes place when there is a Certificate of Indebtedness (promissory notes, cheques or legal confessions before the judge by the debtor or its legal representative). The process begins with the phase of citation, when the creditor initiates the lawsuit by requesting that the debtor pays the total amount of the debt due. If the debtor does not have sufficient funds, the creditor can request that some of its assets be seized. These assets can include real estate, merchandise, bank accounts, industrial property rights and trademarks, to be used as a guarantee against the total amount of the debt.

Once the assets are seized as a guarantee of the debt, the legal process continues until the judge renders his final resolution. Then, if there is no negotiation or payment, the creditor can initiate the auction of assets to recover the debt.

This legal process takes approximately six to eighteen months, although this can vary from case to case.

 

Ordinary Business Proceeding

Ordinary Business Proceedings are the most time consuming procedure in Mexican commercial law. They can take place in the absence of a Certificate of Indebtedness, which means that the only proof of a commercial sale between the parties is the commercial agreement with invoices. In this type of process, assets can only be seized as a guarantee of the total amount of the debt when the judge has rendered his final sentence condemning the debtor to make payment. This legal process takes approximately one to two years.

 

Oral Proceedings

Oral proceedings take place when the total amount of the debt does not exceed EUR 31,856.68. As with ‘Ordinary Business Proceedings’, assets can only be seized as a guarantee of the total amount of the debt when the judge has rendered his final judgment condemning the debtor to pay the amount due. This process, which was established under commercial law on 11 January 2013, takes approximately four to six months.

On the 2nd May 2017, Mexican congress made a modification which ruled that all commercial disputes be processed through Oral Proceedings, with no limitations on amounts, with effect from the 25th January 2018.

 

Enforcement of a legal decision

A judgment is enforceable as soon as it becomes final. If the debtor does not comply with the judgment, the creditor can request a mandatory enforcement order from the court, in the form of an attachment order, sale of specific assets, or liquidation of the company. This takes between six months to two years.

Foreign judgments can be enforced through exequatur proceedings. The court will verify that certain requirements are fulfilled, prior to recognising the foreign decision. The court establishes whether the foreign court had jurisdiction to decide on the issue and whether enforcing the decision will not conflict with Mexican law or public policy.

Insolvency proceedings

Out of court proceedings

Debtors with the approval of creditors holding 40% of the debt can constitute a ‘pre-packaged’ reorganisation agreement. This enables the court to issue an insolvency declaration and declare the company in concurso mercantile.

 

Liquidation

Liquidation can only be requested by the debtor itself, but the debtor can be placed into liquidation as a result of its failure to submit an acceptable debt restructuration proposal to its creditors through the concurso mercantile proceedings. A liquidator is appointed and given the responsibility for managing the company, selling its assets and distributing the proceeds to the creditors according to their rank.

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