The 45th National Convention of the Maquila and Export Manufacturing Industry (Index) was held at the facilities of the hotel Sheraton, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua; it  had the participation of more than 700 representatives from maquilas of the entire country, as well as 21 presidents and directors of Index nationwide, as well as officials from the Municipal, State and Federal Governments.

The objective of the event was for industrials of the country gather in one place where they could analyze the industry status nowadays, improve industrial practices, know their relation with the economic development of the country, in addition of learning trends, innovations, strategies to develop talent, among other issues related with the sector.

During the event, that lasted three days, were held conferences and lectures from different subjects related with the industry, lectured by notable figures from the industrial sector, foreign trade, of business and political of the country.  Some of the conferences were the following: “NAFTA: results, expectations and impacts,” held by the se secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo; “High direction in manufacturing,” held by Gerardo Sandoval Andazola, director quality global IRS and North America OSS TRW; and “The future of the automotive industry,” taught by Alejandro Quiroz Centeno, vice-president and director of APTIV.

Index: encouraging the industry in Mexico

During the opening, Luis Aguirre Lang, president of Index nacional, said that the different presidents of Index are ready to align together modernization and the exporter national interest.

“Promoting the access of the Mexican Industry of Export and update the business environment is part of the support Index provides to corporates represented at the different regions of Mexico,” he said.

In addition, he underlined that Mexico is one of the leading countries worldwide with possibility of increasing its competitive strength in the upcoming years, considering also the foreign trade of the United States.

“As the United States increases its national internal production, making adjustments in favor of its country in manufacturing production worldwide, it is where Mexico has to take advantage of the opportunities.  Mexico could benefit, given the high industrial integration between both countries, mainly in advanced manufacturing sectors, as the automotive, electric, electronic, aerospace, medical, among others,” he said.

In these sectors – he added – Mexico can be an alternative supplier in a wide range of products.

“Mexico is in a select group of countries that has increased its manufacture production in recent years, what strengths its position in expectation of a frontal competition in foreign trade in the two largest economies of the world,” he added.

It is important to mention that Index and its 21 associations promote the productive growth and join efforts to promote the competitive ascent of maquila and export manufacturing companies.  It is an organization leader in productivity of the Mexican global industry.

The importance of the maquila industry in the State

For Maria Teresa Delgado and Luis Carlos Ramirez, president of Index Cd. Juarez and president of Index Chihuahua, the importance of the export maquila industry is fundamental for the country, as it constitutes the economic engine of Mexico.  This is due to the number of jobs that the industry generates, in addition to the economic revenue that supposes the high number of exports that are made.  That is why; Maria Teresa Delgado calls it “the industry of industries.”

Both presidents agreed in that human talent inside the hundreds of industries in the State, in addition of the geographic location and proximity with the United States, make Mexico an attractive place for foreign investments.
“The capability of our collaborators, engineers and administration is excellent; most of the foreign companies located in the country are managed by local people.  In addition, local talents are exported to other countries due to their value, interest, knowledge and skills that make them more effective for the company,” the president explained.
Meanwhile, Maria Teresa Delgado underlined that the human capital is the best in the world, since after 55 years of training and experience in the industry, and they are always updating.

T-Mex and the future of the maquila industry in Chihuahua

Both presidents also agreed in that with the new Commercial Agreement with the United States and Canada supposes an improvement for Mexico.  For Luis Carlos Ramirez, the Agreement supposes a greater attraction of new businesses for 2019, since the agreement generates certainty, while Maria Teresa Delgado considers that the agreement had to be updated.  “Times have changed, therefore it is imperative to be modified and renew,” she explained.

The president of Index Chihuahua, on one side, highlighted that one of the challenges the industry in Chihuahua faces is to internally working in the retention of personnel, shore new technologies and work together with the academy in preparing better the future collaborators to be prepared in adopting and develop new technologies.

On the other hand, the president of Index Cd. Juarez, shared that the maquila must be updated and be a step ahead.  “Manufacture 4.0 is not the future for us; it is a reality, as our industry is already there,” he noted.

Wages: not a concern

An aspect addressed during the opening of the 45th National Convention of Index was the subject of salaries.  Luis Carlos Ramirez shares they are no concerned about it.
“We have the strong conviction that we want a better level in life quality of our workers.”

In addition, he underlined that regarding this subject, changes have to be gradual and compensations must be found in productivity in order for the existing level of attraction in this sector can be maintained without having a sudden loss of competitiveness.  “We have to have an evolutionary process that take us quickly to the wage levels we want,” he shared.

Likely, Maria Teresa Delgado explained that they have no concern regarding this issue, in first place, due to how industries pay 2 to 2.5 times the minimal wage.  Regarding the issue of 16 dollars per hours within the automotive environment, she emphasized that, as country, Mexico cannot compete and pay the same than the US and Canada because those are different economies.  “Even though, there will be ways that with the inventive inside the country it could enter as part of this agreement,” she ended.