Economic Studies
Mexico

Mexico

Population 127.8 million
GDP per capita 8,404 US$
B
Country risk assessment
A4
Business Climate
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Synthesis

MAJOR MACRO ECONOMIC INDICATORS

  2019 2020 2021 (e) 2022 (f)
GDP growth (%) -0.2 -8.3 5.0 2.8
Inflation (yearly average, %) 3.6 3.6 5.5 4.0
Budget balance (% GDP) -1.6 -2.9 -3.2 -3.5
Current account balance (% GDP) -0.3 2.4 -0.1 -0.3
Public debt (% GDP) 53.5 61.0 59.8 60.1

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Geographic proximity to the U.S. economy
  • Membership of USMCA and many other agreements
  • Substantial industrial base
  • Prudent fiscal and monetary policies
  • Free-floating exchange rate
  • Adequate foreign exchange reserves
  • Large population and relatively low labour cost

WEAKNESSES

  • High dependence on the U.S. economy
  • Rising criminality linked to drug cartels and trafficking, high corruption level
  • High income disparities widened by the crisis and lack of universal social protection
  • Weaknesses in transport, health and education
  • High informality in the economy (56%) and the job market
  • Narrow tax base, with tax revenues representing 21% of GDP, depleted sovereign funds
  • Oil sector and PEMEX undermined by years of underinvestment

RISK ASSESSMENT

Activity will decelerate in 2022

Partly due to the disappearance of the favourable base effect, Mexico´s growth momentum is expected to lose steam in 2022. However, GDP will recover to the pre-pandemic level by the end of the year. Activity should be led by household consumption (66% of GDP), as remittances from expatriates (3.7% of GDP in 2020) remain strong, fuelled by the recovery of the U.S. job market and thanks to the gradual reduction of the local unemployment rate. This effect should prevail over the still high inflation (at 5.5% per year in December 2021) and the ongoing retightening of monetary policy. In addition, exports (38% of GDP) should also expand, despite the expected activity growth deceleration in the U.S. This sound performance of foreign sales is underpinned by the assumption of a gradual alleviation in global supply chain disruptions, which would notably benefit the automotive exports (accounting for 34% of Mexico´s total foreign sales) that have suffered. Meanwhile, private investment is expected to continue underperforming due to the government´s controversial policies that have hurt it, such as the bill that would increase the state’s role in the electricity and mining sectors. Moreover, there are concerns that this bill could violate the USMCA trade deal policies on investment and competition. In fact, its passage is uncertain, as it would need the support of some members of the opposition (due to the two-third majority required). 

 

Current account and fiscal deficits will remain benign

The current account switched back to a slight deficit in 2021, as the trade balance returned to deficit and the imbalance in the services account got deeper (notably due to higher freight costs). Regarding the former, imports increased faster than exports, as domestic activity rebounded, and manufactured foreign sales growth was cushioned by global supply chain disruptions. Moreover, the oil trade deficit (linked to insufficient refining capacity) also widened. Conversely, the primary deficit narrowed somewhat (due to lower profit and dividends repatriation by foreign firms), while secondary income remained robust thanks to remittances. FDI were able to comfortably cover the mild external account deficit. The external debt stood at 38% of GDP in September 2021 (18.7% of GDP for the part owed by the public sector). Overall, Mexico should keep a solid external position supported by foreign currency reserves of USD 212 billion (covering roughly 5 months of imports) and a preventive USD 50 billion Flexible Credit Line with the IMF (renewed for two years in November 2021). Still, the current account shortfall should marginally rise in 2022, notably driven by a higher income deficit (assuming a rise in repatriation of profits by foreign investors).

 

Concerning the fiscal account, the government is expected to generally maintain fiscal discipline during the second half of its mandate. The nominal deficit should marginally rise in 2022, driven by higher expenditure. This includes spending on state-owned oil company Pemex (tax burden reduced from 54% to 40% and a capitalization worth roughly 0.2% of GDP), social programs and President Obrador´s key infrastructure projects, including the Mayan Train and the Dos Bocas refinery. Finally, the budget also introduced very modest tax rates (1% per year) for small companies that earn up to USD 15,000 a year to encourage them to leave informality.

 

The government will continue to defend a stronger state role in the energy sector, while facing violence and migration topics

In June 2021, the country held midterm elections, when the full Lower House was renewed. The ruling Morena party and its allies maintained a simple majority in the House, failing in their attempt to achieve the required two-third majority to pass constitutional changes, like the one required to pass a possible controversial bill to revert the 2013 energy sector liberalization, which opened the oil and power sectors to private investment. Despite this, President Obrador sent a proposal of a constitutional reform to Congress in October 2021 to protect public sector interests over private companies in the electricity market. The objective is that CFE would have a guaranteed 54% participation in electricity generation. The law currently gives preference to dispatching the lowest cost energy to the grid, which is often produced by private companies. Additionally, the projected bill would also reserve future lithium extraction for the state. It is important to note that, for now, the courts have generally ruled against controversial policies affecting the energy sector passed in Congress. Still, the bill´s discussing in the legislative was pushed back to April 2022, after a referendum proposed by President Obrador. The latter is expected to take place in March 2022, when citizens will be asked whether they want Obrador´s six-year term to be revoked due to "loss of confidence" or for him to remain in office until the end of his term in 2024.   

 

Last updated: February 2022

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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