MEXICO CITY—The president of Mexico's plastics industry association admitted publicly Oct. 7 that the plastics industry in North America is suffering a violent upheaval.
"This region is being convulsed by the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement," ANIPAC President Juan Antonio Hernandez Leon said in a speech in Spanish at the opening of Plastimagen Mexico 2017.
It was the strongest language he had used publicly about the NAFTA talks between delegations from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the fourth round of which is scheduled to start in Mexico City in late November.
He said Mexico's plastics industry has sustained an average annual growth of 4.8 percent in the past 10 years.
"We generate about 265,000 full-time jobs and 550,000 part-time jobs, which indicates just how prosperous an industry we are."
Hernandez added that North America's plastics industry "continues to have the lowest production costs anywhere in the world."
Production capacity in the region is increasing, he said, "but there are new competitors and the infrastructure is insufficient."
He said: "I want to inform you that in Canada, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, in the U.S.A., the Plastic Industry Association and here in Mexico, the Asociacion Nacional de Industrias del Plastico AC (ANIPAC) have agreed to maintain a compact bloc with regard to the NAFTA renegotiations.
"We're asking that the rules of origin remain unchanged, that the volume of regional content remains the same, as well as some other points that we will be able to divulge at the right time."
He said that Asia dominates the global production of plastic goods with a 49 percent market share, followed by Europe (19 percent) and North America (18 percent). "Consequently, there's an area of opportunity for Mexico and [the rest of] Latin America."
It was, he said, "for this reason that we have not the slightest doubt about the relevance of our sector to the country [Mexico] and the rest of the world."
"I'm sure that the steps we take and the decisions we make as an industry today will benefit the Mexican economy and bring prosperity to the [national] plastics industry and Mexico."
Hernandez's speech came several hours after Marco Antonio Carlotti, promotion commercial manager of the powerful Brazilian Machinery and Equipment Association (ABIMAQ), told Plastics News that Brazil was ready to redouble its trading efforts with Mexico.
He admitted that doubts over NAFTA's future have presented Brazil with an opportunity in Mexico.
"The Brazilian market is not as competitive as it was before," he said. "We are encouraging Brazilian companies to export more. In Brazil, we have to promote a global vision."
When countries like Mexico and China were developing their economies based on exports in the 1970s, Brazil concentrated almost exclusively on developing its internal market.
Mexico, for example, has 12 free trade agreements covering 43 countries, according to Ricardo Flores Gomez, a chemical and plastics industry business consultant at Consultores Asociados de Grupo Texne, who is based in Mexico City.