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Consultant says Mexico's plastics industry should have more clout

By: Stephen Downer

September 5, 2013

MEXICO CITY — A former president of Mexico's plastics industry association has criticized the sector over its alleged apathy, disunion and failure to curry favor with successive federal governments in fiscal matters.

"For the past 30 years the plastics industry has been ignored by the government while other sectors every six years draw water for their mill," in the form of fiscal stimuli, wrote Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto, using a Mexican colloquial phrase.

"We in the sector have stood by and watched this happen for all these years and have said (and done) nothing."

Comparing Mexico's plastics industry unfavorably with the road freight industry, whose representative body, Canacar (Cámara Nacional de Autotransporte de Carga) is negotiating a large stimulus package with the finance ministry to allow its members to renew their fleets, De la Tijera writes:

"I believe that the difference is that they [Canacar] and their members know what they want, they know whom to ask and how to ask for it and they do what's necessary to be heard. We, on the other hand, have spent the past two years wanting the same things but have been unable to take the necessary steps to enable us to be heard. In other words, God doesn't hear us because we don't speak."

Writing in his weekly newsletter, "Carta al Industrial," dated Aug. 31, De la Tijera added that the sector spent the months prior to Mexico's general elections in 2012 mulling over which proposals would be pertinent and which presidential candidates it should approach. But nothing was done, he said.

"After the elections in July, 2012, knowing who the honcho [President Enrique Peña Nieto] would be, there was no serious approach made to his transition team and since then, with the cabinet in place, neither has there been a concrete approach that will put us in the thoughts of the new federal government officials."

He added: "And it's not because we in the plastics industry don't know what we need or cannot come up with strong proposals that will motivate the authorities to support our industry. It's simply that we have not decided or, what is worse, we have not wanted to do it."

He argues that with the Mexican plastics industry investing an average of $1.2 billion a year in fixed assets in the past 15 years, 38 percent of it on machinery and auxiliary equipment and 56 percent on molding tools, the sector should have sufficient clout with the authorities.

But the industry is divided, he says. "While Canacar is truly national, we are split into local or regional groups. We don't speak to one another, let alone try to reach a consensus that will benefit the entire industry. In this sense, we are very short-sighted because we're interested only in what happens in our neighborhood.

"I would like to think that one day the plastics groupings of Guadalajara, León, the Mexico City metropolitan area, Monterrey, Puebla and Yucatán will come together and put their needs and proposals on the table… to present a common front to the federal and state authorities as we seek support for our industry."

Plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástic AC), which is based in Mexico City, hired Martha Alva de la Selva, a former under-minister at the federal economy ministry, as its managing director this summer.

A chemistry graduate of Mexico's National Autonomous University (Unam), she replaced Luis Gerardo Álvarez on July 1. Álvarez told Plastics News he was fired. Anipac no longer employs a public relations coordinator or retains a PR agency.

Alva de la Selva has not responded to a Plastics News request for a comment on her plans for Anipac.

De la Tijera currently is a plastics industry consultant. He was Anipac's president for two years, starting in March 2006.