There has never been a better moment for business between Mexico and China, during the last six years, Chinese Investment in Mexico grew an astonishing 184%, commerce also grew making Mexico the 2nd largest business partner to China in the Continent, Over 1,000 Chinese companies have established presence in Mexico, cases such as ZTE, Huawey, Hisense, Hier, Sanhua, BAIC, Minhua, JAC Motors, Envision Energy, Jinko Solar, Hutchinson Wampoa (Hong Kong) and CNOOC are just some examples of groups that have started operations in Mexico, and pairing with these efforts, on the financial side Banks such as ICBC and Bank of China have also established presence here. In terms of connectivity Chinese may now visit Mexico using 2 direct flight options using either Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Tijuana or Aeromexico from Shanghai also to Tijuana City, alternatively Chinese Nationals may also Travel to Mexico City with a stop over in Vancouver, Canada using China Southern Airlines from Guangzhou, all of these facts have contributed to Mexico becoming the most visited country by Chinese Nationals in Latin America. In terms of Commerce, for cargo flights Chinese may either ship or receive direct cargo between Guadalajara and Hong Kong using Cathay Pacific with new cargo flights coming in soon in other strategic regions in Mexico. The last president in Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto met with President Xi Jinping 8 times during his government period, this should be a record number in history for Mexico and perhaps for China. These and many other reasons including many changes in the relationships between China and the USA as well as between Mexico and USA paired with a new government in Mexico which is perhaps more homogeneous to Chinese principals gives way to strong opportunities between both countries, however such it is in any new dynamic it proves to be advantageous for Chinese business people to understand cultural, legal and business etiquette when doing business in a country such as Mexico, and this is what this article primarily focuses on.
Not everyone can understand Chinese culture, as a foreigner living in China (which I was for 8 years) it takes a set of very particular traits which I believe to be a mix of awareness, respect, curiosity and empathy coupled with a certain level of intelligence, Chinese people will very seldomly give you a hint of what is going on on the cultural and idiosyncratic plane specially under certain situations when it has to do with business and power, there is much reading between the lines that has to be done, and from the western perspective one will almost need to adopt a Chinese set of values and mind set, to a certain degree this will also happen in other cultures . It's important to take into account that Mexico, very much like China is a country made up from a mixture of Cultures and there is no overall key to deciphering the perfect approach to doing business with Mexicans, for instance much like China interacting with someone from the north will be in essence different than approaching a southerner, however there are some key elements that if understood will facilitate good communication, cooperation and thus can lead to a more agile and thus successful business partnership.
I remember once a good Chinese friend grabbed my arm just before entering a private dinner in Nanjing, she whispered in my ear, Samuel in China we have a saying: the biggest battles ever fought in China where settled on the dinner table, this is one of those seldomly given hints which I was fortunate to receive a few while working in China, and just with those words my position on the table and what I needed to do became clear. Much like in China Mexicans also value Harmony, Family, Honesty, Loyalty and Wisdom, however also much like in China it takes a certain kind of person without excluding businessmen to adhere to these principals, this is the kind of person you want as a partner, in China or anywhere in the world including Mexico, a good fact is that good level Mexicans also follow these values, in one phrase: finding your right partner is key. In China you have the concept of face and guanxi, good level people in Mexico also take these aspects seriously and if you are looking to do good business in Mexico for the long run you will need to find people who have the same reasoning. Another aspect to take into account is that Mexico is a younger country with the largest part of the population being below 35 years of age, this offers huge potential not only in terms of labor but also it terms of looking for a certain mix of knowledge, guanxi, values and professionalism when finding who will share the risk and operate you business in Mexico, one of the biggest challenges I've seen when not only Chinese but Asian foreign investors in general commit when doing business in Mexico is thinking that they can run there operation efficiently appointing their own people for the management of the project, this is in short one of the biggest mistakes I have seen when landing Asian investment in Mexico, this also makes it crucial to find the right partner, there are many highly trustworthy Mexicans, it's just a matter of finding them and establishing the right relationship, plus rule of law is a great complement to business activity in the country, knowing the norms will also save you time and money, know the rules of the game! Believe it or not, as a foreigner you are protected in Mexico and this is why just from America over 18,000 manufacturing companies have successful operations in Mexico, most of them for many decades and have either Mexican partners or Managers to ensure the success of their business ventures in the country.
Culturally speaking, Mexicans come from a Latin based culture where things like friendship and enjoying life have a strong cultural value, as a foreign investor, never neglect these values, sharing the pleasure of a good meal, drinks and/or a game of golf will open lines of trust and friendship, this is perhaps the most invaluable aspect while doing business in Mexico, this will earn you status and respect, and much like in China, once you belong to the family the family will share the wins and losses and you will be able to truly rely on each other, this takes firstly finding your right partner and secondly develop this relationship with trust and commitment. An interesting fact is that you wont see segregation in Mexico, as you walk into a restaurant or walk on the street you might see tall and blond, short and brown or even Asian looking people, if you were to walk up to them and ask, where are you from? Very possibly they will answer: I'm Mexican, you see, Mexican people, genetically speaking are one of the most mixed races in the world, having Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and Even African decent, this is why Mexico is one of the top tourism destinations in the world, and a top destination for foreign residents, because its one of the most warm and welcoming countries in the world, it's simple if you are a friend you are a friend, and like anywhere, good friendship is the best basis for a long term relationship of any kind.
So to sum up, find the right partner, know the rules of the game, don't be afraid to build trust and friendship through sharing good moments, incorporate good Mexican decision makers and leaders into your group, be sensitive to the cultural differences, remain curious and empathetic to the features and needs of a different culture.