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GDP: US$768 billion (2005).
Main imports: Metalworking machines, steel mill products, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, car parts, repair parts for motor vehicles, aircraft and aircraft parts.
Main exports: Manufactured goods, oil and oil products, silver, fruit, vegetables, coffee and cotton.
Main trade partners: Canada, China, Japan, Spain and USA.
The agricultural sector, in decline for decades, now accounts for only 5% of the country's GDP yet employs about 20% of the workforce. However, US moves towards ethanol power have pushed up the world price of corn (from which ethanol is produced). Mexico, the birthplace of corn and the world's fourth largest producer, is well placed to benefit.
In the service sector, tourism is the biggest industry. In 2005, it had largely recovered from a downturn in the wake of the 9/11, when hurricanes Emily, Stan and Wilma caused millions of dollars worth of damage, and closed resorts on both coasts.
Oil and manufacturing are big contributors to the country's economic health, but are at the mercy of price fluctuations, and the state of the US car industry.
Inflation is currently around 4% but rising, after a 30-year low in 2005. This combined with higher unemployment has left Mexicans feeling nervous.
English is widely spoken in business circles although it is preferable for the visitor to be able to speak Spanish. Letters written in Spanish should be replied to in Spanish. Business wear is formal. Mexicans attach much importance to courtesy and the use of titles. Prior appointments are necessary and if in doubt about a correct title it is advisable to use licenciado in place of se�or. Best months for business visits are January to June and September to November. Avoid the two weeks before and after Christmas and Easter.
Office hours: These vary considerably, but are usually Mon-Fri 0900-1800; lunch breaks usually last an hour but some business lunches can go on for longer.
The meetings, conventions, exhibitions and incentives planner's kit issued by the Mexico Tourism Board lists over 70 convention venues in Mexico City, Acapulco, Taxco, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Guadalajara, Mazatlan, Cancun and Merida. Taxco, Acapulco, Morelia and Cancun have dedicated centres, the largest of which, in Acapulco, can seat up to 8,000 people.
Confederacion de Camaras Nacionales de Comercio Servicios y Turismo (CONCANACO)
3rd Floor, Balderas 144, Colonia Centro, 06079 Mexico DF, Mexico
Tel: (55) 5722 9300.
Trade Commission of the Mexican Embassy (BANCOMEXT) in the UK
5th Floor, Queen Anne's Business Centre, 28 Broadway, London SW1H 9JX, UK
Tel: (020) 7340 9538.
Website: www.buyinmexico.com.mx or www.investinmexico.com.mx