MEXICO CITY - Mexican plastics processors have suffered a domestic market contraction of up to 60 percent in the first four months of 1995 due to the country's economic crisis, said Anipac industry association President Rafael Vidales Mendez. Today, Mexican firms on average are operating at just 50 percent of installed capacity. As much as 60 percent of the 1994 work force of the plastics industry has been laid off, according to Vidales. He estimated that the crisis has postponed as much as $600 million worth of expansion projects planned by local processors.
Since January, processors also have faced a 90 percent increase in resin prices, which are chiefly imported, Vidales said. This came on top of the estimated 80 percent price increase they sustained between September and December last year.
Vidales, who was speaking at a Mexico City news conference to launch a $500,000 technical center for the Mexican plastics industry, said only 10 percent of the sector's 2,500 firms are benefiting from export business. Around 2,200 firms are micro, small or medium-sized.
Vidales said that what many smaller companies require to compete abroad is technical development. That is why the launch of the Centro Nacional para la Calidad del Pl stico SC is timely, setting quality standards, and providing certification, information and technical training.
The nonprofit CNCP, established at the heart of the capital's plastics industry belt at Naucalpan, is a joint venture between Mexico state and the private sector.
Financing for the center has come from a technology program run by the Mexican government's science and technology organization, Conacyt. The plan also is backed by Anipac and the Mexican resin producer Industrias Resistol SA de CV.
``Our mission is to contribute to improving quality and raising productivity in the plastics industry. International trade demand means that daily we must be more and more competitive,'' CNCP President Hector Vargas Icaza told nearly 200 guests at the center's inauguration last week.
Vargas is president of the leading plastics pipe extruding firm Pl sticos Omega SA de CV of Mexico City.
Director general of the CNCP, which employs 19, is Hans Ernst Deutsch, former director of the Instituto National de Tuberas Pl sticas AC. He said CNCP will be involved with recycling and environmental questions.
The center was formally inaugurated by Mexican Industry Under-Secretary Raul Ramos.
Coinciding with the CNCP launch, the Mexican government announced the formation of a body to aid smaller firms. The National Council for Micro, Small & Medium-Sized Companies will deregulate and encourage exporting, boost competition and simplify industrial regulations.