SAN DIEGO - Increasingly, companies along the Mexican border seek plastics processors with precision capabilities. ``There are huge needs for the small plastics parts process,'' maquiladora guru A.M. Ramirez said in remarks at the Sept. 11 Mexport trade show in San Diego. ``The automotive industry in the East and the electronics industry in the West require extremely precise, electrical-related, small plastic parts.''
Ramirez noted that plastics processors have focused on large television cabinets in recent years, making Tijuana a major center for this product.
Ramirez said the Mexican government is dealing carefully with transitions beyond the maquila-doras' grace period ending in 2001, when North American Free Trade Agreement provisions are fully implemented.
``We expect Secofi to issue a working document for comment within 60 days,'' according to Ramirez. Secofi is Mexico's Secretariat of Commerce and Industrial Development.
Maquiladoras are the leading generators of hard currency for Mexico. They account for 22 percent of manufacturing and represent stable employment, he said.
Ramirez is executive vice president of the maquiladora management firm Made in Mexico Inc., president of a newly formed sourcing and buyers' agent company ProSource Mexico Inc. and a director of the National Mexican Maquiladora Association. Ramirez has offices in San Diego and Mexico City.
Thomas Plein, president of AMS Plastics Inc. in El Cajon, Calif., underscored the trend along the border.
``There is a fabulous amount of growth,'' Plein said, ``We at AMS are looking closely at ancillary products'' for the TV manufacturers.
AMS, which operates a maquiladora in Tijuana, is seeing the arrival of more molders, metal stampers, vacuum formers, powder coaters and painters, Plein said.
A March Secofi report listed 2,288 maquiladoras with 710,268 employees. Tijuana in the state of Baja California North had the greatest number, 486, and Ciudad Ju rez in the state of Chihuahua had the most employees, 170,838.
The eighth-annual Mexport attracted 310 exhibitors. The San Diego Economic Development Corporation and the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce organized the event.