These last few years have been terrible for the image of Mexico in the world, and more worrisome, the image that we Mexicans have of our own country. Yet, as 2010 came to an end, I ran into several pieces that led me to the necessary year-end reflection that things are probably not as bad as they are depicted.
For me, one way to explain and relate to what is going on in Mexico is to make the analogy to the process of training and running a marathon.
The entire marathon process is painfully long, and in many cases hard to explain. Along several phases one can feel -- and look – terrible; runners call them “bad patches”. Yet at the end, after crossing the finish line, one feels amazingly good. The sense of achievement is hard to describe, and the benefits in the health and morale fronts are undeniable.
In this marathon process, I think Mexico is going through one of those bad patches.
To put it into perspective, I would like to share some facts about Mexico, and how these can help for a balanced assessment of the country as a sourcing destination.
A recently published essay from Jorge G. Castañeda and Héctor Aguilar Camín, titled “Back to the Future”, is an outstanding collection of facts, analysis and ideas about the reality of Mexico and its potential for the future—a great reading.
In their piece, the second of the series about the obstacles that Mexico faces and possible paths for the future, the authors conclude that Mexico is a better country than the one most people imagine, but is also in great need of leadership, a project, a psychoanalyst and a publicist. So let me contribute to the latter.
Mexico is a big country, the fifteen largest in the world, ranking also as one of the 15th largest economies. It is home to nearly 110 million people (only ten other countries have a bigger population), and it contains the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world (the U.S. ranks 5th in this category).
Mexico is a resilient country. In spite of being the hardest-hit country by the financial crisis, the PPP-adjusted per capita yearly income in Mexico in 2010, according to the IMF was $14,266—slightly below Latin America’s leaders Argentina and Chile with $15,603 and $14,928, respectively. But Mexico also compares favorably to the world’s average of $10,725, and to Brazil’s $11,289, China’s $7,518, and India’s $3,290.
Mexico is an attractive country. Foreign direct investment in Mexico rose 28% in the first half of 2010 from a year earlier to $12.24 billion, boosted in part by the acquisition of the beer business of Monterrey-based FEMSA by Heineken N.V. and rebounding U.S. demand for manufactured goods.
Mexico is also a happy country. The recently published Happy Planet Index 2.0 scored Mexico as the happiest country in the northern hemisphere. The HPI measures life expectancy, life satisfaction and ecological footprint to determine a country’s HPI.
As in the marathon race, bad patches happen well into the race, as a consequence of progress and effort. Past the patch, Mexico will regain its shape as the big, resilient, attractive and happy country that it has been for ages. A good running partner for your nearshoring strategy.