MEXICO CITY - Mexico's economic crisis has hit PlastImagen '95, the country's major international plastics trade show, with some exhibitors reducing booth space or even pulling out altogether. In December, show organizer Organizaci¢n de Promociones y Exposiciones SA de CV (Oprex) reported the show's 61,275 square feet of exhibit space was totally sold out. But, early in January following the Mexican peso devaluation, many exhibitors were alarmed and about 22,000 square feet of that space was lost, according to Oprex.
One major U.S. exhibitor taking less space than it originally planned is machinery supplier Cincinnati Milacron Inc. of Cincinnati. It has decided to share booth space with its Latin America agent, Miami-based Plastec USA Inc.
Companies that have pulled out of the show altogether include Eurotecnica SA, representing Italian equipment manufacturer Sipa SpA of Venice, and several Mexican distributors of foreign raw materials and equipment, Oprex said.
However, since then, despite continuing economic uncertainty and the depressed peso exchange rate, the organizers have managed to recover nearly 14,000 square feet of bookings, said Elena Maribona de Bernal, Oprex executive director.
The show, being sponsored by Asociaci¢n Nacional de la Industria del Pl stico A.C. (Anipac), Mexico's national plastics processors association, will be held Feb. 21-24 at Mexico City's Sports Palace.
Maribona remains bullish about the show's success, though she admits the crisis has cost her firm at least $100,000. Oprex has had to pay operators of the Sports Palace in dollars while many exhibitors have paid the organizers in pesos.
``In just two or three weeks the cost of things has gone up by 30 percent and we have lost clients,'' she said.
She added that many potential exhibitors were afraid of committing themselves to Mexico because of the crisis. But she believes that companies need to promote themselves during the ``bad times.''
Maribona blamed former President Carlos Salinas for misleading Mexicans and foreigners that the country was doing better than it was.
``That's the reason that many [foreign] machinery companies came to Mexico,'' she said.
But she said she believes the crisis will be short-lived and show exhibitors with medium-and long-term expectations will reap the benefits of coming to Mexico.
A Cincinnati Milacron official said the firm had considered a separate 516-square-foot booth to show bigger machines, but did not contract for any space.
``We had the space under consideration and we chose not to exercise the option on that,'' company spokesman Tom Jarrold said in a telephone interview from Cincinnati.
He declined to discuss reasons for the change of plans other than to say: ``Our plan to take large machines just didn't seem to work out based on a combination of sold vs. billed machines.''
Anipac President Rafael Vidales remains philosophical about the situation: ``This is a very changeable situation [in the country]. It is the type of show where you can cancel when you think it necessary. But the exhibition is going ahead.''
Oprex expects PlastImagen, which will be staged in two large pavilions at the Sports Palace, to attract 215 exhibitors and more than 10,000 visitors.
This is the seventh PlastImagen staged by Oprex. In 1994 the event was held for the first time without the sponsorship of Ani-pac and Mexico's national and regional industry ``chambers.''
This year, PlastImagen is getting the support of other North American industry organizations: the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington; the Society of Plastics Engineers in Brookfield, Conn.; and the Society of the Plastics Industry of Canada in Don Mills, Ontario.