International Study Trip: Mexico

Date: Mexico, December 17-23, 2017

Program Fee: $3,235 with eight participants

Zocalo Mexico City panorama at nightfall


This is a one-credit course that includes an international study trip to Mexico in December 2017. The trip includes visits to numerous companies and other organizations in and around Mexico City. In this course we study fundamentals of international business, (ii) the environments and challenges of emerging markets, (iii) strategies and operations for succeeding in emerging markets, and (iv) specific aspects of business in Mexico.

Mexico’s population of more than 120 million makes it the world’s 11th most populous country, and the most populous Spanish-speaking country. About 50% of the population is under age 30. The country consists of 31 states and a federal district, Mexico City, which will be the focus of our visit. Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities, with a metro population of nearly 21 million.

Mexico’s nominal GDP is about $1.1 trillion, making it the world’s 15th largest economy. An emerging market, Mexico’s economy continues to develop and likely will become one of the world’s ten largest economies in coming decades. Mexico is closely linked to the US via the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), enacted in 1994. The oil company, Pemex, is a state-owned enterprise and the nation’s largest firm. It supplies about 20% of Mexico’s federal tax revenue.

Mexico’s manufacturing sector accounts for about one-third of the nation’s economy. In addition to oil, other top industries include electronics, automobiles, heavy industry, construction, food, banking, financial services, and tourism. GDP per capita is nearly $20,000 in PPP terms, and about $10,000 in nominal terms. Income levels in rural areas are typically one-half or one-third those in urban areas. The minimum wage is about $5.00 per day.
Mexico has a rich cultural heritage in art, music, and literature. Historically, Mexico was home to various aboriginal civilizations, including the Olmecs, Mayas and Aztecs before first contact with Europeans. Spain conquered and colonized Mexico beginning in 1521. Mexico gained its independence three centuries later in 1821 in the War of Independence. The 19th century was characterized by instability, much political change, and several wars, including the Mexican–American War. By the 20th century, Mexico was under a dictatorship, which was overthrown in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The nation’s Constitution and current political system were enacted in 1917.

Today Mexico’s government structure is similar to the US, with a bicameral congress, an executive branch, and a supreme court. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has dominated Mexican politics for most of the last century. The current president is Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mexico is characterized by significant public sector corruption and drug-related crime. Some 100,000 Mexicans belong to the nation’s drug cartels, which are active mainly in northern Mexico. Other social and economic concerns include low real wages, high underemployment, inequitable income distribution, and much rural poverty. Concentrated industry and trade with the US have made Mexico’s northern-tier states notably wealthier than the rest of the country.

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