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Consultant pushes for change in Mexico's plastics sector

By: Stephen Downer

August 22, 2012

MEXICO CITY (Aug. 22, 12:20 p.m. ET) — A leading plastics industry consultant has urged the sector in Mexico to shake off the years of “lean growth” that have, in his words, plagued it since 2001 and to cease to behave “like drowsy prawns at the mercy of the tide.”

“Now is the ideal time” for the industry to set an agenda for the next six years, writes Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto, president and managing director of Grupo Texne, a conglomerate of technological consulting and business companies, in a Spanish language, open letter emailed to industrialists Aug. 20.

“But we must be clear about where we want to go, set targets and act within our possibilities – which are not few – and align all of this with the expectations of the new government so as to be able to start 2013 with a push.”

Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), won the July 1 presidential election. He is expected to take office for six years on Dec. 1, although, because several opposition parties have challenged the result, he has still not been declared the president-elect.

According to De la Tijera, a former president of plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC), Mexico’s plastics processing industry is in the doldrums, with few indications that it will be able to extract itself this year.

“Without getting into the nitty-gritty, suffice it to say that we reached the end of the first half of the year without seeing any real positive signs that 2012 will be a year of recovery for our industry,” he writes.

He adds that in the lead-up to the installing of the new president, “it will be difficult for there to be a boom in the economy and in domestic consumption. And, with growth in the United States faltering, the export side – direct and indirect – of our industry will not be a factor that leads to an increase in the consumption or production of plastic goods as we would like.

“Add to this the increase in the price of resins and the prospects for the remaining months of the year are not encouraging.”

In the first quarter, Mexico’s gross domestic product grew half a percentage point more than the 3.5 percent forecast. And in the second quarter, that growth was 4.1 percent.

The trouble is, he points out, that the biggest growth was in the primary and tertiary sectors, rather than in the secondary sector, “which is where the demand for plastics is generated.”

Referring to the United States, he asserts that consumer spending “is not increasing as it should.” The same applies to orders for manufactured goods and exports, he said. “Subsequently, the market for our manufacturers is flat and, therefore, Mexican exports that contain plastic are not growing as we would like.”