Angel Oria, president of Mexico's National Association for Plastics Industries (Anipac) since March, has firm goals for the trade association.
``Our main challenge is to achieve an integrated petrochemical-plastics chain, bringing new products and increasing the volume of national production,'' Oria said in an interview at his office in San Angel, a leafy, cobblestoned neighborhood in the south of Mexico City.
``What we want to see is the businesses that are now micro-companies - and currently 90 percent of the plastics industry here is micro - becoming a critical mass, achieving greater added value and market participation, so that the industry can compete with other countries.
``This seems like a lot,'' he added, ``but we have a well-developed strategic plan.''
Oria is director and major shareholder of Polímero y Materias Primas Internacionales, one of Mexico's biggest distributors of raw materials, known as Polymat. He also is a major shareholder in Polyresinas SA de CV, and vice president of Polipropileno Nacional, a polypropylene molder, extruder and fiber processor known as Grupo Polinal.
Anipac has about 400 members who represent 70 percent of the consumption of raw plastics materials in Mexico. The group's short-term objective is to encourage cooperation among industry chambers, associations and public and private organizations, to support the plastics industry.
As evidence, Oria had just come from a meeting with Mexico's Chamber of Deputies to voice concerns about a proposed law for the prevention and management of waste.
``We had various criticisms. For example, it doesn't consider differences between large and smaller companies, and we also disagree with the time frame for implementation,'' he said.
Anipac's medium-term aims include the creation of programs and alliances with raw material and equipment suppliers to promote modernization. The group also wants to encourage information exchange with companies in Central and Latin America, to create joint ventures that will provide synergies and economies of scale.
One of the tasks of the association is to alert members to international trends that could put the industry at risk in Mexico.
That goal is seen in the theme of Anipac's National Convention of the Plastics Industry, a Nov. 14-17 event in Puerto Vallarta that this year is titled ``Unity against the threat of China.''
``We chose the China theme because plastics is one of the sectors vulnerable to uneven competition,'' he said, adding that processors in China enjoy cheap or free electricity, low or nil taxes, free housing, and no-interest financing.
``I think it's not just a priority theme, but a question of survival,'' Oria said.
Oria's experience has shown him that Mexico lacks ``a culture of managing costs.''
``We don't like to sell outside our sphere of influence, as [that] means learning how to deal with new cultures, and we don't like to make life complicated.''