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If you imagine a lazy Mexican lounging in the sun, think again. Mexicans are the hardest workers in the world, according to an OCED survey. The Mexico economy is amongst the top 20 in the world - and still growing despite the global economic crisis and drugs problems which have cost 60,000 lives over the past five years.
The BBC's Central America correspondent Will Grant challenges the stereotypes as he investigates how foreign investment and exports are driving the economy. The richest man in the world is Mexican.
In 1994, after the so-called Tequila crisis when Mexican defaulted on US debt and devalued the peso, signing of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the sell-off of state-owned assets and companies kick-started the economy again.
Mexico now has free trade agreements with more than 40 countries - with growing export sectors such as the automobile, electronics and aviation industries. On the doorstep of the United States - the largest consumer market in the world - Mexico is looking to overtake China in US trade and this year hosted the G20.
But all the same, when the new government takes over in November, it faces not only the challenges of drugs and corruption but also huge inequality in income and wages. The Mexico economy also relies on $23 billion of remittances sent back to families by Mexicans crossing into the States to find work.
Will Grant talks to industry leaders, workers, politicians and economists about the state of the Mexico economy and how it will survive the global downturn.
(Image: Picture of the Mexican five hundred peso notes. Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)