Morelia, Mexico — Mexico's plastics industry could easily turn to the Middle East for raw material supplies if the United States withdrew from the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to sector leader Juan Antonio Hernández León.
"Mexico is one of the main purchasers of [plastics] raw materials from the United States," Hernández, president of industry association Anipac, said in a statement.
"However, other economies, primarily those in the Middle East, offer very good supply options," he said. Mexico, he added, imports 44 million tons of plastic raw materials a year, mostly from the United States.
Anipac, the Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC, is participating in the renegotiation of NAFTA, which President Donald Trump has called the "worst trade deal in history."
Talks between representatives of the Mexico, the United States and Canada started in the summer and are expected to run into 2018.
Hernández was speaking on the eve of Anipac's 50th convention in the capital of the state of Michoacan in late September. He said that in 2016, Mexico produced 5.4 million tons of plastic products, 4.8 percent more than in 2015. It exported 2.1 million tons of finished goods and imported 4.7 million tons of products.
A principal theme during the three-day convention was the use of plastics in agriculture. Michoacan's most important economic activities are agriculture, livestock, forestry products, fishing and handicrafts, with 34 percent of the economically active population engaged in agriculture.
Hernández urged the state's farmers to adopt plastics-related technology to increase yields of vegetables, fruit and grain. Michoacan is the world's largest producer of avocados.
"Plastics are crucial in greenhouses," he said. "They also help to protect crops from inclement weather, pests and other blights."