Mexican reboots business as epidemic fades

Writer: Chen Xiaochun  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-04-20

Gerardo Jalil Garcia Kuri from Mexico in his Shenzhen office.Courtesy of Garcia Kuri

For 31-year-old Gerardo Jalil Garcia Kuri from Mexico, who lives in Shenzhen, everything has been back on track (and even accelerated) in April despite a brief business downturn due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Garcia Kuri, who has been staying in the city through the epidemic, is in charge of the management of Globex Asia, a third-party inspections company that provides services such as customs clearance inspection, container-loading supervision, quality control and factory audits across China. Currently, 95 percent of their clients are from Mexico and the rest are made up of clients from Chile, Spain and the U.S.

As the outbreak in the city changed in different phases, so did their working pattern.

“We all worked from home after the Chinese New Year until Feb. 27 or 28. In March, our office hours were from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to avoid crowds using public transportation. And starting from April, we have returned to normal working hours,” the young Mexican told Shenzhen Daily on Thursday, adding that they provide employees with five masks every week and the office building management disinfects the office every day.

The main products that the company inspects include electronic products such as TVs and tablets, air conditioners, garments, syringes and LED lights.

Due to the pandemic, they have seen reductions in their workload, first due to factory closures in China and now due to business closures in Mexico.

“During the pandemic we had a service reduction, at first, as most factories in China were closed in February, and the ones that opened in March either had very strict health requirements or barred entry outright to outsiders. So, we had a 50-percent drop in business compared to the same period last year (February and March),” said Garcia Kuri.

But things took a dramatic turn in April, and business picked up as China made up for the delivery past due in February and March and Mexico rushed Chinese factories to send their latest purchases so that they could receive the goods before Mexico enforced stricter COVID-19 preventive measures.

The Mexican Government has recently extended the coronavirus lockdown measures to May 30, weeks after they asked citizens to follow the “healthy distance” guidance in late March. Social distancing will only be partially lifted May 17, according to Hugo López-Gatell, Mexican Undersecretary of Health.

As a result, Garcia Kuri and their team started to worry about the following months, especially May and June. With the country locked down, clients in Mexico, seeing low or zero sales, may stop making new purchases for products like electronics, garments and LED lights, which could bring about a 40-percent decline in their sales compared to the same period last year.

Just as Garcia Kuri worried, one of their clients, which has orders of air conditioners ready to be shipped at the end of the month, informed him Friday that they postponed the shipments to past the end of May.

But a coin has two sides. The company has received more requests for services related to medical supplies. “We have clients who have asked us to inspect mask shipments. And we have an old client who is asking for more syringes. Now the Mexican Government is buying a lot of medical supplies for the health system.”

When asked about the impact of the pandemic on economic globalization, Garcia Kuri believes that things will remain mostly the same.

“From an entrepreneurial point of view, I think nothing will change. Because entrepreneurs only look at profitability. After all, it is business. They will keep buying from where the products are cheaper and of better quality,” said Garcia Kuri.

For him, the evolution or the possible retreat of globalization depends on the governments and their public policies. “I believe that most governments may try to return part of the production of extremely essential products back to their own country, such as medical supplies. Apart from that, the rest will still depend on the market.”

In terms of daily life, Garcia Kuri feels quite safe in China. “At the beginning of the outbreak, I worried a bit but I followed the measures of the government and believed that everything would be fine. Now I feel safer in China than any other places in the world, at least for the moment.”