RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created a win/win situation for the U.S. and Mexican automotive supplier industry, according to Bob McKenna, president and CEO of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), in his comments at the third International Congress of the Automotive Industry (CIIAM) on July 12.
The event preceded the PAACE Automechanika Mexico, which runs Wednesday, July 13, through Friday, July 15, at Centro Banamex Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City. MEMA is one of the sponsoring associations for the annual automotive show, which showcases the automotive aftermarket, heavy duty and original equipment markets in Mexico and Latin America. PAACE Automechanika Mexico sold out exhibit space for the first time in the show’s history and is expected to have record attendance for the 12th consecutive year.
“PAACE Automechanika Mexico is truly the most important week of the year in the Mexican automotive industry,” McKenna said. “This week has become a must attend event if a company hopes to do business in the Mexican aftermarket industry. The growing popularity of this show demonstrates how important Mexico has become to North American suppliers. Since the enactment of NAFTA, more and more of our members have discovered the outstanding opportunities in Mexico for their products and have invested in the country,” he added.
“The world’s largest automotive players now have manufacturing facilities in Mexico, located primarily in northern and central Mexico,” McKenna said. “Many U.S. suppliers have found that investing in Mexico with facilities has provided a more cost-effective, yet high quality workforce … Certainly, U.S. suppliers have made a commitment to Mexico because it makes sense to do business here,” he noted.
McKenna lauded the Mexican automotive industry for its progress. “In recent years, the Mexican auto industry has created substantial sales opportunities for all suppliers. Mexico’s nearly 1,400 Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers imported $22.8 billion in materials, equipment and parts, representing 7 percent of Mexico’s total imports in 2002,” he said “That same year, the auto industry accounted for 3.5 percent of Mexico’s GDP and 19.3 percent of its total manufacturing output.”
In addition to McKenna, speakers included representatives of other automotive associations, the Mexican government, the Big Three and other automakers. This year’s theme was “Key Factors to Improve NAFTA Integration in the Automotive Industry.” McKenna, along with other industry leaders, greeted Mexican President Vincente Fox attended the show’s ribbon cutting ceremonies.