MEXICO CITY — Organizers of Mexico's main plastics industry show, PlastImagen '97, are gearing up for an event they say demonstrates Mexico and its plastics sector are recovering from the devastating effects December 1994's peso devaluation.
This year's show has expanded greatly from the one held 18 months ago, with nearly 60 percent more exhibitors — from 222 to 350 — and an additional 30 percent in floor space.
``Even so, the stands have been sold out for over two months, and 30 companies are on the waiting list,'' Sandra Arrellano, publicity manager of show organizer Oprex, said in an Aug. 25 interview in her Mexico City office.
Arrellano hopes PlastImagen '97 will draw more than 15,000 visitors. It will be held Sept. 9-12 in the Palacio de los Deportes, a sporting and convention center near the international airport. Oprex said 12,178 attended the 1996 show, up 10 percent from the 11,117 in 1995.
The Mexican plastics industry is rebounding strongly from the peso devaluation, according to the presidents of two of the country's principal plastics organizations: the Asociaci¢n Nacional de Industrias de Pl stico A.C. (Anipac), and the Instituto Mexicano del Pl stico Industrial (IMPI).
``Mexico is a country that falls in a day, and then rises in one day, and the recovery has been observed as of July this year,'' said IMPI President Rafael Blanco Vargas.
``From March to July, 110 plastic processing machines — injection, blown, extrusion — have been bought, and since each has an average value of $500,000, the total investment over these months is $55 million,'' he said.
Blanco said the majority of the money has been spent on preform injection molding machines for PET bottles, with the soft drink firms standing out as they ``take giant steps to integrate into the plastics processing.''
In a separate interview Aug. 22, Anipac President Francesco Cecchetti and Director Socorro Sedano said plastics production has risen nearly 9 percent for the industry so far this year.
``Part is due to the new resin plants just opened [by BASF] or under construction [by Shell], which gives confidence in general,'' Cecchetti said.
One-third of Mexican processing companies, or about 1,000 firms, shut down from 1994-1995, in the wake of the economic crisis. But Cecchetti said data from Inegi, Mexico's National Statistics Institute, showed 500 new plastics firms were created in 1996.
More-recent figures are not available yet, Sedano said, but she added that the number of jobs in the sector stands at 95,000, according to data from the Mexican Social Security Institute.
As the industry modernizes, there is also a trend for more technology and fewer jobs.
``That does not necessarily mean higher wages,'' Cecchetti said. However, many companies are making an effort to train workers and add on wage benefits, Sedano said.
Estimates vary on how many plastics companies survived the crisis or started up recently: Anipac says the sector has 2,200 companies, while IMPI reports 2,500 processors and 50 producers of raw materials, and an Oprex bulletin cites 3,201 companies.