Located in North America, the Latin American country of Mexico is beautiful and diverse, rich in history and culture. Its official name is actually ‘Estados Unidos Mexicanos’ (United Mexican States), its current name derived from its capital, Mexico City. So what does this fascinating country offer to the world? The stereotypical answer might be tequila, but if there’s one thing that Mexico does well it is, without a doubt, tequila, not forgetting celebrating the dead! There may be other countries that honour their ancestors, but Mexico definitely does it with flair, by holding a flamboyant and lively annual fiesta known as ‘El Dia de los Muertos’ (originating in Mexico). You will find the most ornate versions of this fiesta in San Andrés Mixquic in Mexico City, Patzcuaro in Michoacán and Janitzio in Michoacán. Instead of insulting the dead with mourning and sadness, Mexican families celebrate their lives by building ‘ofrendas’ (shrines) to worship the deceased, which include photos of their dearly departed, skull-shaped candies (the ‘calacas’ or ‘calaveras’ skeletons and skulls are a symbol of this fiesta), food, candles and ‘cempasuchil’, the Aztec marigold or flower of the dead. Popular belief is that children’s souls will return to earth to visit family and friends on 1st November, whilst adults make an entrance on 2nd November.
Mexico is also associated with many more wonderful things. These include the Mariachi band, the sombrero hat, colourful clothing, culinary diversity, professional wrestling otherwise known as ‘Lucha libre’, as well as lesser-known facts, such as accommodating the world’s second smallest rabbit found in the vicinities of Mexico’s volcanoes, funnily enough called the Volcano Rabbit. In fact this country finds itself in the ‘Ring of Fire’, an area where the world’s most dangerous volcanoes and earthquakes are found. And where do you think the name of the smallest breed of dog in the world came from? The state of Chihuahua in Mexico! The world can also thank Mexico for introducing the divine creation of chocolate across the globe, as it can corn and chillies!
On an economical note, Mexico is the world’s ninth largest economy showing a solid economic performance from its leading industries, including manufacturing, electronics, aerospace and oil. International companies looking to expand their business ventures within the manufacturing world would do well to take a look at Mexico (strategically located between North and South America with a highly skilled labour force), particularly as a few years ago it took sixth position as the largest auto parts manufacturer in the world, as well as being crowned the fourth largest automotive exporter to the world. What’s more, as a producer of more than 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, Mexico hails among the world’s top ten oil producers, the sales of oil accounting for almost a third of all government revenue. Plus, the airport infrastructure is currently going through an overhaul, which opens up a window within the energy sector. Combining all these positive factors, alongside the free-trade agreements (FTAs) available to more than 40 countries, an excellent business climate, political reforms, improved government stability and labour laws, as well as a concerted effort to curtail corruption and organised crime, Mexico is looking more and more attractive to foreign investors.
So now what? How do you go about solidifying a steadfast business relationship with Mexicans? Here are a few shots to get you under the Mexican table!
The largest number of Spanish speakers is found in Mexico therefore, it is not surprising that the language of business is Spanish, so you will do well to learn a few essential phrases, but make sure to learn Mexican Spanish! Do not fear, as you could always aid your business visit by hiring a Mexican interpreter (being native they will understand how things should be said in Mexico!).
Thanks to its diverse history, the country is also abundant in indigenous languages, such as Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional languages, but don’t worry, you’ll already know the words chocolate, coyote, tomato and avocado, which all originated in Nahuatl!
Mexicans expect punctuality from their foreign visitors, but do not abide by the same promptness themselves. Arriving to a business meeting 30 minutes after the scheduled time of the appointment is not perceived as tardy in their books!
As is common in the Latin American world, close encounters of the friendliest, politest and warmest kind are conventional, as Mexicans converse in close proximity. By showing any discomfort to this body language you are likely to offend your counterpart as it shows disrespect.
The initial meeting is like an interview. Mexicans will want to assess whether you are trustworthy and reputable and whether they have received enough care and attention from you. It is therefore advisable to smartly dress to impress, turn on your sociable charm and show an interest in their hometown, families and hobbies over a coffee or lunch, to help secure a stronger and more successful business relationship.
Greeting your Mexican clients involves a few formalities, including using the formal usted term of address, if speaking Spanish, and making sure to address them with a title and their first surname (Hispanics have two surnames, the first listed from the father, the second from the mother).
Like building any new business foundation, it is always useful to go armed with the right tools, so be sure to do your research on your target market’s culture and business etiquette. This will serve you better in the long run, helping you establish a more durable international business relationship.
By Madeline Prusmann, Project Manager, October 2017