Studi Economici
Mexico

Mexico

Population 124.7 million
GDP 9,797 US$
B
Country risk assessment
A4
Business Climate
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Synthesis

MAJOR MACRO ECONOMIC INDICATORS

  2017 2018 2019 (e) 2020 (f)
GDP growth (%) 2.1 2.0 0.0 0.5
Inflation (yearly average, %) 6.0 4.9 3.8 3.1
Budget balance (% GDP) -1.1 -2.1 -2.0 -2.8
Current account balance (% GDP) -1.7 -1.8 -1.0 -1.4
Public debt (% GDP) 54.0 53.6 53.8 54.6

(e): Estimate. (f): Forecast.

STRENGTHS

  • Geographic proximity to the United States economy
  • Membership of NAFTA and many other agreements
  • Substantial industrial base
  • Free-floating exchange rate
  • Adequate foreign reserves level
  • Large population and relatively low labour cost
  • Supportive regulatory environment

WEAKNESSES

  • High dependence on the US economy; vulnerable to the ratification of the USMCA agreement (which replaces the NAFTA) by the US Congress
  • High income disparities and rising criminality
  • High corruption level
  • Transport, health and education weaknesses
  • Oil sector undermined by years of underinvestment
  • High informality in job market

RISK ASSESSMENT

GDP growth should remain subdued in 2020

GDP registered a significant deceleration in 2019 mainly driven by the elevated uncertainty regarding the controversial measures of the new government and the still pending legislative ratification of the USMCA agreement by the United States and Canada (both issues have weighted on investments). In 2020, GDP growth should register some timid improvement, thanks to the expected agreement ratification and to some positive contribution from the ongoing easing monetary cycle (favouring somewhat credit market). Moreover, some increase in public expenditure and investments is also expected, as the negative government-transition effect fades (usually there is some delay in public expenditure in the first months of a new government). Once the USMCA is ratified and the easing monetary cycle reduces lending rates, some improvement in private investments should be observed. Besides, oil production has recently shown some stabilization (after 15 years in a row of contraction), a movement which, if persistent, will contribute positively to the mining output in 2020. Nevertheless, the scenario is not without risks. External headwinds could build up this year, the main one being a stronger than expected deceleration in the US. In this scenario, exports (mainly composed of automotive and ICT – notably electrical machinery and equipment) would be hit as well as household consumption (in case of a weaker US job market affecting remittances from Mexicans leaving abroad). Alongside, the impeachment process currently faced by the US President and the proximity to the November 2020 US presidential elections could compromise the USMCA ratification schedule.

 

Twin deficits continue well routed

Current account deficit narrowed in 2019, due to the improvement in non-oil trade balance surplus, as a weaker currency and a subdued domestic demand took a toll on imports. Alongside, the high oil trade deficit of roughly 1.9% of GDP (majorly composed by crude oil exports and oil derivatives imports) also marginally reduced. Moreover, while services deficit reduced of about 0.7% of GDP (thanks to higher travel and transport revenues), the historically high primary income deficit (of roughly 2.6% of GDP) continued to widen (due to higher interest paid and still high net dividends payment). Finally, remittances reached a new record high level. In 2020, current account deficit should however widen, as the expected loss of momentum of the US economy will tend to impact Mexican manufacturing exports as well as remittances from Mexicans living in the US (which represents roughly 2.8% of GDP). Despite that, foreign direct investments will remain sufficient to cover the current account deficit fully. Alongside, foreign currency reserves remain adequate (at 15% of GDP and covering roughly 5.7 months of imports). Regarding external debt, it represents around 37% of GDP (46% owed by the government and 48% by the non-financial private sector). Despite investors’ fear, fiscal policy remained prudent during AMLO’s first full year in office. In 2019, tax revenues disappointed amid weak growth, leading the government to use part of the oil stabilization fund. The execution of the 2020 budget may be challenging too, because it departs from very optimistic premises (it estimates GDP to grow by 2% in 2020 and oil production to reach 1.9 mbd in 2020, up from the current 1.7 mbd). Indeed, government´s efforts to revive the highly indebted state-owned oil company Pemex could derail fiscal consolidation, as the government may have to increase state aid if oil production failed to rebound. Finally, the expected deceleration of US GDP could also affect tax revenues in 2020.

 

Government faced with mounting violence-related challenges

Although some economic steps taken by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) from the leftist Morena party have frightened investors (such as the cancelation of the construction of Mexico city´s airport), it has managed to keep its popularity relatively high during the first year in office. That is mainly because of some social policies and the anti-corruption and crime- fighting rhetoric. Concerning combat against violence, government has failed in curbing it. AMLO has insisted he will not “use violence to fight violence”, saying he prefers to concentrate on solving the “social” causes of violence and drug trafficking. Meanwhile, violence is escalating in the country and the number of murders in 2019 probably surpassed the record of 33,000 set in 2018.

 

Last update : February 2020

PAYMENT

Debts are commonly paid in Mexico by cheques, wire transfers and – in some special cases – credit cards. 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). The documents most frequently related to commercial transaction are invoices, promissory notes, and cheques. 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. 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.

 

Debt collection

Invoices

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) 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.

 

Amicable phase

Before entering into legal proceedings in Mexico, creditors normally attempt to contact their debtors via telephone. 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, other steps include 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.

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 that could potentially enable the payment of sums due.

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 the amicable phase.

 

Legal proceedings

The Medios Preparatorios a Juicio Ejecutivo Mercantil is a 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. There are subsequently three types of proceedings that can be initiated against debtors:

 

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 takes approximately four to six months. On May 2, 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 January 25, 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

With the approval of creditors holding 40% of the debt, debtors 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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