The Foreign Investment Regulation Review: Mexico


As the United States'2 largest trading partner, accounting for approximately 14.7 per cent of total trade with that country as at May 2021,3 and a member of the 2020 United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA)(successor to the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)), Mexico has become a huge host for foreign investment in most sectors of its economy, from manufacturing to the import and export of goods. By way of example, Mexico is currently the seventh major car manufacturing country in the world (ranking third among commercial vehicle manufacturing countries and fourth for exported vehicles), an achievement that would not be possible without the participation of foreign automotive manufacturers in Mexico.4 Notably, Mexico suffered a −21 per cent decrease in vehicle production, which resulted from the covid-19 pandemic and ensued microchip shortage, forcing several OEMs in Mexico to shut down production for certain periods of time.

Although Mexico has historically been open to foreign investment and indeed is the ninth largest country for foreign direct investment as a host country, and recipient of the largest inflow of foreign direct investment in Latin America,5 the 2012–2018 administration undertook ambitious structural reforms focusing mainly on the energy and telecommunications sectors, as these had lagged behind significantly on account of previous foreign investment restrictions. In 2014, the Mexican Congress enacted a series of reforms to kick-start and promote economic growth in those sectors. Among these reforms were a significant deregulation of the energy sector and the elimination of foreign investment restrictions within the financial and telecommunications sectors.

Since 1 December 2018, Mexico has been governed by a left-of-centre government. This government has become known for its desire to revisit many of the legal developments of the past. The main thrust of change is the fight against corruption and the impunity enjoyed by its beneficiaries. However, some policy changes have been disconcerting and have generated a number of question marks about their soundness for enhancing economic growth, a situation that has been compounded by the fact that this government has given little or no economic assistance to companies undergoing hardship as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. As a case in point, the government has recently enacted rules and regulations that, if and when applied, would result in an imbalance favouring government companies such as Pemex and CFE in the production and commercialisation of petrol and gasoline, and electricity, respectively. These rules and regulations have been controversial and are, in fact, suspended in some instances from being applied by the judicial branches.

Generally speaking, foreign investment is regulated by the 1993 Foreign Investments Law and its Regulations (as amended) (jointly, FIL), which together provide and describe the main framework for the topic; the FIL is discussed further in the following sections.

In addition to establishing the framework for foreign investments, the FIL gives a brief description of each relevant business sector, any remaining restrictions with respect to foreign investments and the extent of those restrictions. Regardless, as a general rule, all foreign investments must be reported to the National Registry of Foreign Investments (RNIE), which is administered by the Directorate General of Foreign Investment of the Secretariat of Economy.

Foreign investment regime

As previously mentioned, the FIL is the main legal instrument regulating foreign investment in Mexico. It defines foreign investment as the participation in any percentage by foreign investors in the corporate capital of Mexican entities, investments in Mexican companies where the majority interest is composed of foreign capital or the participation by foreign investors in the activities and sectors contemplated in the FIL. A foreign investor is defined as any individual or entity of any nationality other than Mexican, including foreign entities with no legal independent existence.

While, in general, foreign investors may participate in Mexican projects without major restrictions (such as being allowed to participate directly in the corporate capital of Mexican legal entities, purchase and sell assets, manufacture, import and export products and open and operate establishments or businesses of any legal nature), some limitations apply to certain economically 'strategic' activities, in which foreign investment is restricted or, in some specific cases, not permitted at all.

The Mexican Constitution actually provides for certain strategic activities to be expressly reserved for the state to undertake exclusively, either in whole or in part. The strategic activities reserved for the state are as follows:

  1. the postal service, telegraphy and radio-telegraphy;
  2. radioactive minerals and nuclear energy;
  3. the control of the national electricity system along with the transmission and distribution of electricity;
  4. the printing of money and coinage;
  5. hydrocarbons;
  6. basic petrochemicals; and
  7. the control, supervision and oversight of airports, ports and heliports.

As part of the aforementioned reforms, the transmission of electricity and the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons were significantly deregulated and, although still restricted, private entities, both foreign and domestic, are now allowed to participate to a certain extent in these activities, using a type of profit or production sharing mechanism with the state oil company, Pemex. However, the Lopez Obrador administration has been systematically pushing to again regulate and essentially nationalise hydrocarbon and energy production within the country, under the argument that the state owned companies are now competing unfairly as foreign entities were excessively benefited from the mentioned reforms.

There are some other economic sectors in which foreign investment is allowed but also restricted (i.e., capped); these are discussed further in Section IV.

Regarding real estate, there are no restrictions for Mexican commercial companies seeking to acquire urban real property, even if non-Mexican equity holders participate in the capital stock as minority or majority stakeholders. However, companies may only acquire rural property to the extent that it is necessary for the fulfilment of their corporate purpose. In no event may these corporations acquire real property dedicated to agricultural, cattle or forestry activities of an area larger than the thresholds established for these activities.

Furthermore, acquiring property in a restricted zone (which covers an area creating a belt around the country, 100 kilometres wide in the border regions and 50 kilometres wide along the coast) requires, inter alia, Mexican companies to include a Calvo Clause in their corporate by-laws. A Calvo Clause is a requirement for foreign shareholders to consider themselves Mexican nationals in respect of the company's property and includes an express agreement not to invoke the protection of their own government, under penalty of forfeiting their property in benefit of the Mexican nation.

Mexican companies with a Calvo Clause included in their by-laws are authorised to acquire real estate located in the restricted zone for non-residential purposes and have beneficiary rights over real estate located within the restricted zone for residential purposes. If acquiring real estate for non-residential purposes, a corporation is required to register the acquisition with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign citizens cannot acquire real estate within the restricted zone by any means, regardless of the purpose for which the property would be acquired; however, they can hold beneficiary rights in trusts established for the purpose of holding ownership of the relevant real estate, subject to securing a prior authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Typical transactional structures

Investors seeking to establish a presence in Mexico have a variety of options to achieve that goal. They can do so directly, by means of a representative office or a branch office or by choosing to establish a local corporate entity.

Representative offices are an easy and inexpensive way of exploring the Mexican market. This type of vehicle allows an interested investor to test the waters and lay the groundwork for a more substantive incursion into business activities in the country. Through a representative office, the interested party may distribute information about its business, as well as advertising materials, but is not allowed to perform business transactions (understood to be income-generating activities).

Because the condition precedent to establishing a representative office is that the activities performed by the entity do not generate income, such offices are not subject to significant tax obligations and liabilities (except withholding taxes if the entity employs local people).

For certain industry sectors, such as banking and insurance, establishing a representative office in Mexico requires prior approval from the agencies regulating those sectors (the National Securities and Banking Commission, for example) and in some cases will also require authorisation from the National Commission of Foreign Investments (CNIE).

Branch offices, like representative offices, do not require the foreign investor to incorporate a new legal entity in Mexico. They allow investors to act in Mexico and conduct business transactions directly through their corporate entities incorporated abroad. However, investors seeking to open a branch office must first obtain authorisation from the Secretariat of Economy and subsequently register in the relevant Public Registry of Property and Commerce of the location in which the office will be operational. Once authorised, a branch office may perform any business activity that is not otherwise limited to the Mexican state, to Mexican nationals or to Mexican companies.

Notably, without a separate corporate presence in Mexico, liability is directly attributable to the foreign corporation because there is no 'buffer' or corporate veil between it and the local business operations.

As an alternative to representative and branch offices, investors may choose to incorporate a new commercial entity in the country, existing independently from the original foreign corporation. In most cases, this will shield the investor from direct liability for operations carried out in Mexico by the new local vehicle.

There are two main commercial structures that shield the foreign investor from liability: the corporation (SA) and the limited liability company (SRL).

Both the SA and the SRL are allowed to enter into the same business activities and markets and are treated equally for tax purposes.6

In terms of protecting investors from liability, both corporate vehicles are limited liability entities, with stakeholders only liable for an amount up to the value of their respective contributions into the company and not for the operations of the company itself (for which the company is liable). This protection has certain limits, of course, as illegal activities may pierce the corporate veil.

i Guiding principles of SAs and SRLs

A few general principles of law govern the liability of the directors and officers of both types of companies, except in the case of publicly held corporations, for which more detailed regulations exist. Generally, directors must act reasonably, in the best interests of their principals, and must recuse themselves from the discussion of and approval of transactions when they are faced with a potential conflict of interest.

Minority investors in an SA have more statutory rights than those in an SRL. For instance, equity holders in an SA representing 25 per cent or more of the capital stock may challenge and suspend the adoption of any resolution and have a statutory right to postpone a shareholders' meeting for a legal term of three days if they need additional information about the matter to be discussed at the meeting.

Equity holders in both an SRL and an SA may be subject to involuntary separation on certain specific and limited grounds. The grounds for separation for an SRL are provided in the General Law of Commercial Companies and include scenarios such as an equity holder using the company for its own private business, infringing the by-laws or applicable laws, fraud against the company or insolvency. In the case of SAs, the grounds for separation may be set out in the by-laws, given that the General Law of Commercial Companies does not provide a set list of scenarios.

Capital calls, capital redemption, transformation, spin-offs and mergers, and capital contributions, both in kind and in cash, follow the same principles in both companies. One difference is that the by-laws of an SRL may require additional contributions from its partners. In both cases, the by-laws may provide for negative controls and special provisions for the adoption of decisions.

In SRLs, any partner in the company has a statutory right to withdraw from the company when management is conferred to a person who is not a partner or whenever management is delegated to a non-partner. In practice, this statutory right is difficult to enforce as it is unclear how the equity should be redeemed by the company and at what value. The shareholders of SAs and SAPIs (see below) are not granted separation rights in this instance.

The rules for SAs were amended in 2014 to make the vehicle more appealing for private equity investors and for joint ventures. In general, the shareholders of an SA may agree upon the following:

  1. the rights and obligations of purchase and sale options;
  2. stock sales and all other acts related to first refusal rights;
  3. agreements to exercise voting rights (i.e., shareholders' agreements); and
  4. agreements for the sale of their shares in a public offer.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions regarding minority rights must always be taken into consideration.

There is also a sub-type of the SA called an investment promotion corporation (SAPI), which is a corporate vehicle created to foster the establishment of joint ventures and private equity investments. Although it is regulated by the Securities Exchange Law, it is not a publicly traded entity and is not subject to the governance rules for publicly traded entities. However, the shareholders of an SAPI may choose to apply the director's liability regime that applies to listed companies.

Currently, there are no really marked differences between the regulation of SAs and SAPIs. However, unlike SAPIs, SAs are not allowed to include restrictions stripping shareholders of the right to receive dividends or otherwise limiting their economic rights, and they are not allowed to purchase their own shares, so from this perspective SAPIs are more flexible than traditional SAs. In contrast, SAPIs may not be governed by a sole director, whereas SAs may choose to have a sole director instead of a board.

ii Asset purchases and share purchases

Before we enter into substantive discussions of the main differences, advantages and disadvantages between asset purchases and share purchases, note that there are no restrictions on transferring capital or profits into or out of Mexico. Additionally, there are no currency restrictions in Mexico, and repatriation of funds is unlimited. As such, foreign investors are allowed to directly purchase assets or ownership interests in Mexican entities, subject only to the restrictions described in Section II.

From a business perspective, the easiest and most common method used to acquire an existing business in Mexico is through the purchase of all, or a controlling interest in, the equity representing the corporate capital of the target entity, on the understanding that SAs, SAPIs and SRLs must at all times have at least two partners or shareholders, although one of these may have a nominal participation.

The transfer of shares (in the case of an SA) is usually done by a simple endorsement of the stock certificates representing the corporate capital or (in the case of an SRL) through the transfer, by means of an assignment agreement, of the equity quotas representing the corporate capital of the entity, although it is important to remember that the General Law for Commercial Companies provides that the partners holding the majority of the equity interest of an SRL must approve the transaction (this threshold may be set higher in the corresponding by-laws of the target entity.) The business terms (e.g., purchase price, representations and warranties, conditions precedent) are usually documented through a US-style stock purchase agreement, which will contain customary terms and conditions, as well as representations and warranties concerning the underlying business being purchased.

Some of the main advantages of acquiring an existing business through a stock purchase are as follows:

  1. the business suffers no discernible changes to its operations as of the moment of the acquisition, notwithstanding that the new owners may at a later point make any adjustments they find convenient;
  2. the transaction is fairly simple and straightforward, with minimum corporate requirements other than the endorsement or assignment of the share certificates or quotas representing ownership of the entity; and
  3. apart from any sector-specific requirements, there is no need for further action once the transfer of the ownership interest is effected, as the assets, operating permits, employees and tax benefits, among others, are generally not subject to additional transfer requirements.

One of the downsides of effecting a stock purchase is that all liabilities accrued by the company prior to the purchase remain with the acquired entity (including tax and employment liabilities). Although these liabilities may be covered and transferred to the seller in the stock purchase agreement, claims can result in a judicial process that could prove costly and burdensome to the buyer.

The purchase of assets, however, is a safe choice when a buyer wants to limit liability resulting from accrued obligations generated by the target entity prior to purchase.

By its very nature, the purchase of assets is a more burdensome and complicated transaction and thus more expensive than a 'traditional' stock purchase, as the buyer and seller must agree on exactly what assets and liabilities (e.g., accounts payable, debts, current employees) are to be transferred to the purchasing entity. Both from a business perspective and as a tax obligation, each transferred item must be identified in the asset purchase agreement, with the price allocation for each item.

Additionally, when purchasing assets, there is an actual transfer of ownership of each asset. As such, the acquiring entity may need to carry out certain formalities such as obtain permits to operate or use the assets and may have to hire or transfer employees into the purchasing entity. Furthermore, the transfer of certain assets may be subject to certain formalities, such as specific government authorisations (e.g., registrations on machinery) that may be required to identify the elements involved in the transfer (e.g., notarial deeds, government authorisations and consents from third parties). If these assets are subject to lien, security or collateral, or an attachment, or the selling entity is a depository for items of this kind, there could be restrictions on their transfer. In addition, if the acquisition of assets would result in the transfer of a majority of the business of seller, the transfer may be considered as the acquisition of an ongoing business and taxed as such.

One of the main advantages of pursuing an asset purchase over a stock purchase is that the purchaser will have certainty that it is not acquiring contingent liabilities or undisclosed liabilities from the selling entity. However, parties should note that if the authorities find that the purchaser acquired an ongoing concern, the purchaser could be jointly liable for unpaid taxes and, in the event of a finding that the employees who were transferred form part of the deal, also liable for employment obligations.

The primary disadvantage of an asset purchase is the tax cost for the parties (depending on whether the assets were already highly depreciated or not) and the labour implications. From an employment standpoint, the seller may be required to transfer personnel to the entity designated by the purchaser, which might involve severance costs for the selling entity, with immediate hiring by the buyer. However, it is not unheard of for the parties to agree that the purchaser will assume all the corresponding obligations of the seller, as a 'substitute employer', subrogating to all the seller's obligations with respect to seniority, benefits, amounts owed on account of salaries and similar labour-related obligations.

There are certain delays in implementing an asset transfer insofar as it might be necessary to obtain new registrations and authorisations for the activity, product or service (e.g., environmental authorisations, official standards and registrations for imports). Not only may all this represent a delay, but it could also entail costs that would need to be properly evaluated.

iii Taxation

In brief, a company's tax obligations depend on whether it is considered a Mexican resident for tax purposes or whether the foreign company is considered to have a permanent establishment in Mexico. For a legal entity to be considered a Mexican resident for tax purposes, its main office or effective management must be established within the country.

Non-resident companies are considered to have a permanent establishment in Mexico when their businesses are carried out completely or partially in Mexico. This is done either through any offices, branches or agencies located in Mexico or through an agent (with dependent or independent status in some cases) with the power to enter into agreements on the company's behalf. However, this does not apply in the case of truly independent agents.

Tax laws and treaties further regulate the creation of permanent establishments and the status of non-residents when they may be deemed to be doing business in Mexico.

Review procedure

As mentioned briefly in Section II, certain economic activities are capped at a certain percentage of foreign investment participation. These restrictions are found in the FIL and include the following:

  1. a limit of up to 10 per cent foreign investment in the case of cooperative companies for production; and
  2. a limit of up to 49 per cent foreign investment in:
    • explosives and firearm-related industries;
    • printing and publishing of national-circulation newspapers;
    • equity representing land for agriculture or cattle use;
    • freshwater fishing and fishing within the coastal and economic exclusion zone;
    • port administration;
    • port piloting services of vessels to perform inland navigation transactions;
    • shipping companies dedicated to the commercial exploitation of vessels for inland navigation and coastal shipping, except for cruises;
    • supply of fuels and lubricants for vessels, aircraft and railway equipment;
    • broadcasting; and
    • domestic air transportation and specialised air transportation.

The limits on foreign investment participation in the above-mentioned economic activities may not be surpassed directly or through trusts, contracts, partnership or by-law agreements, pyramid schemes or other mechanisms granting any control or higher participation than that established. However, neutral investment, which is a sort of preferred non-participatory financial investment equity that is not characterised as foreign investment for the purposes of the limitations provided by the FIL, has made it possible to have equity participation despite these restrictions.

Neutral investment allows economic rights but very limited corporate rights and it will not grant the foreign investor control over the corresponding company or trust. Therefore, foreign investors may participate in Mexican companies or in trusts through a special class of stock that the Secretariat of Economy authorises, which is not taken into account in determining the percentage of foreign investment in the company's capital stock.

Moreover, a foreign investor must obtain approval from the CNIE for participations higher than 49 per cent in:

  1. port services for vessels performing inland navigation transactions;
  2. navigation companies dedicated to the exploitation of vessels;
  3. entities that are concessionaires or holders of permits of public-service airports;
  4. private education services;
  5. legal services; and
  6. construction, operation and exploitation of railways.

Further to the above, foreign investors require authorisation from the CNIE whenever they acquire, directly or indirectly, equity of a company whose assets are above the amount fixed each year by the CNIE (currently, around 20.2 billion Mexican pesos or approximately US$1 billion).7 The time taken by the CNIE to authorise transactions of this kind may vary but is not usually considered a significant obstacle. The CNIE may demand certain undertakings from a foreign investor in relation to employment, technology transfer or investment as conditions of granting authorisation; however, 95 per cent of all foreign investment transactions in Mexico do not require government approval and it is considered one of the most open and competitive markets in the world.8

As further discussed in Section V, in general terms and subject to the restrictions discussed in Section II, foreign investors receive the same treatment as domestic investors when acquiring or becoming involved in restricted areas, including in matters such as antitrust approvals, where the focus would be on the nature of the transaction and not necessarily on the nationality of the parties involved. The only difference for foreign investors is the percentage of ownership interest that they can hold, either directly or indirectly.

For information purposes, the Mexican government relies on statistics provided by the RNIE, which monitors foreign investment, collects statistics and carries out surveys relating to foreign investment in the country. Specific information about investors and investments is not generally available to the public, except for the statistical data available through general publications or aggregate data available on the RNIE website.9 Some recent modifications to the General Law of Commercial Companies require information about equity structure to be made available to the federal government.

All foreign investors and Mexican companies with foreign participation in their ownership are subject to registration. Upon registration with the RNIE, periodic reporting obligations arise; failure to comply with these obligations may trigger the imposition of fines.

Foreign investor protection

The first protection is the standard of treatment afforded to foreign investment. There are three major standards: minimum, national and 'most-favoured nation'.

The minimum standard requires Mexico to provide foreign investors with fair and equitable treatment in accordance with international standards, including full protection. The national standard implies the absence of discrimination based on nationality. Thus, foreign investors must enjoy treatment no less favourable than that afforded to Mexican investors in similar circumstances. Finally, the most-favoured nation standard implies that Mexico must grant at least the same treatment to the investor as that provided to other investors in similar circumstances.

An additional protection relates to specific rules safeguarding against expropriation or equivalent measures. Expropriation, nationalisation and equivalent measures (e.g., regulatory seizures) should only take place when they are required for reasons of public purpose, on a non-discriminatory basis, observing due process and through fair market-value indemnification related to the foreign investment.

Another fundamental protection is the prohibition of performance requirements. Mexico may not condition the receipt or continued receipt of an advantage or incentive on the meeting of any requirements. There is also the principle of free transfer of currency, which has already been briefly mentioned. Foreign investors may freely transfer, without delay and in hard currency, profits, dividends and any type of cash stemming from or involving their investment.

Finally, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) usually prohibit a requirement that Mexican nationals occupy senior management positions.

Mexico has entered into a substantial network of 31 BITs, with Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Iceland, Kuwait, Panama, Slovakia, South Korea, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, the United Arab Emirates, 16 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Mexico has also signed BITs with Brazil and with Haiti, although these are currently not in force.10

Mexico is currently negotiating BITs with the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

Although certain differences may exist in BITs depending on specific negotiated terms, the content of these treaties is by and large homogeneous. The BITs generally include two sections: investment protection principles and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Most relevant for the business environment in Mexico is the new USMCA (or T-MEC), which came into effect on 1 July 2020, superseding the well-known NAFTA and including provisions regulating investment between Mexico, Canada and the United States. The USMCA treaty accounts for one of the largest free trade regions in the world in terms of volume of trade, and grants most-favoured-nation treatment to US and Canadian investors. The USMCA includes activities and sectors that were not relevant or in existence when the former NAFTA agreement entered into force on 1 January 1994, such as telecommunications, internet commerce and minimum labour standards.

In addition to the USMCA, Mexico currently has several free trade agreements (FTAs) with investment clauses, with countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan and Nicaragua and further FTAs with Peru and the nations of Central America are pending ratification. These contribute to making Mexico the country with the most FTAs in the world.11 Mexico also became the first country to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), which was signed by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam on 8 March 2018, creating unprecedented access to the economies of these countries for the signatories. This agreement came into full effect on 30 December 2018, with ratification by Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia.

Both BITs and FTAs generally grant foreign investors the right to bring an action against the Mexican state in the event of a breach or an alleged breach of specified provisions.

The dispute resolution mechanism in the BITs and the FTAs is arbitration, usually preceded by negotiation. The investors will usually select a three-member arbitration tribunal. The goal is to ensure equal, impartial and non-discriminatory treatment for the foreign investor and the host state, which would be difficult to ensure by resorting to the courts of either country. Although the USMCA largely retained certain dispute resolution mechanisms from NAFTA, Canada–Mexico disputes are now governed by the TPP-11 rather than the USMCA.

Other strategic considerations

As part of the high-level analysis to be undertaken before investing in Mexico, investors should consider the country's well-documented social and economic circumstances.

Although most investors should not expect to face overly cumbersome regulatory hurdles when investing in the more traditional aspects of the Mexican economy, there are several hot-button issues that may be a headache for even the most well-intentioned and seasoned foreign investor.

Because government corruption is notorious, particularly in the infrastructure sector, entities involved in this area of business should exercise additional caution (e.g., strict compliance with their domestic anti-corruption laws and strict compliance with local laws and anti-money laundering standards) to avoid being faced with judicial review and sanctioning procedures. Furthermore, businesses engaged in activities that require constant and close work with the government should be particularly careful to ensure independence and fair dealing with government officials. While maintaining good relationships with government officials is important, there are strict guidelines prohibiting gifts or 'privileges' for officials.

Finally, because of anti-corruption regulations, and the possibility of accidentally getting involved in illegal activities, it is important for foreign investors to be careful when choosing local counsel for any and all business undertakings.

Current developments

Although the López Obrador-led administration has adopted certain decisions at a federal level that have created shockwaves throughout the Mexican economy (such as cancelling the new multibillion Mexico City International Airport and restricting the entry of private companies into the electricity market), to date the markets have generally responded with a sensible level of scepticism about any potential long-term damage to the economy and to Mexico's place as one of the leading foreign investment host countries in the region. Like the rest of the world, Mexico, and especially its leading automotive industry, has suffered a profound economic impact from the covid-19 pandemic; however, because of the deep economic ties and interdependency between the three North American countries (reiterated and strengthened through the USMCA), recovery is expected largely to follow that of the region as a whole. Recent elections at all level of governments have resulted in the governing party losing its super-majority in congress, which has tapered its power to enact constitutional reforms and has re-kindled some confidence in the stability of the country as an investment destination.

Furthermore, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement just recently came into effect. After a period of 'easing in' and upon the expected ratification by more signatory states, we anticipate seeing a substantial expansion of foreign investment into Mexico and the opening of new markets.

On a final note, the revamped Mexico–European Union FTA was successfully renegotiated in the past year and is currently undergoing translation and pending signature and ratification. Expected to come into force in late 2020 or early 2021, this new FTA includes standards that will make our country a more attractive place in which to invest and work. Mexico and the more industrialised nations are becoming increasingly homogeneous and accordingly the most significant aspects of this agreement include cutting-edge anti-corruption provisions and a conflict resolution process explicitly tailored to cases of corruption.


1 Juan Francisco Torres-Landa Ruffo and Federico De Noriega Olea are partners and Pablo Corcuera Bain is a senior associate at Hogan Lovells.

2 May 2021 figures show Mexico to be the United States' largest trading partner, slightly ahead of Canada (Mexico accounts for 14.7 per cent of total trade, Canada 14.5 per cent and China 13.9 per cent).

3 United States Census Bureau, 'Foreign Trade: Top Trading Partners – May 2021',

5 UNCTAD, 'World Investment Report 2020: International Production beyond the Pandemic',

6 Refer to your local counsel to discuss any tax effects in your local jurisdiction.

7 As updated by the CNIE in May 2020.

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