Mexico City — Mexican plastics industry head Juan Antonio Hernández León expects the United States to remain in the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
"I don't believe they'll leave," he told Plastics News in a March 12 telephone interview conducted in Spanish.
He added that, despite President Donald Trump's reservations about NAFTA, a number of U.S. state governors see it as economically crucial and have lobbied in its favor.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is among the latest to express his support for the pact, said Hernández, whose two-year stint as president of a rejuvenated national plastics industry association (Anipac) ends in mid-April.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report from November said the states most likely to suffer if the United States withdrew from NAFTA would be "Midwestern industrial states, heartland farm states and border states like Texas and Arizona — nearly all of which voted to elect President Trump."
Hernández said that even if NAFTA did collapse, Mexico could still resort to another 11 free trade pacts covering its commercial relations with an additional 46 countries.
He was less enthusiastic about the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Mexico signed along with 10 other Pacific rim countries, excluding the United States, in Chile on March 8.
"I'm afraid that [co-signatory] countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore will flood our country with cheap products," he said. "The plastics industry is asking the Mexican government to ensure we are not negatively impacted."
Hernández is also fearful that a bag ban due to take effect in the city of Querétaro on April 1 will spread to other municipalities in the state of Querétaro.
"We are lobbying local legislators to try to convince them that the ban is a serious mistake. But there's a lot of ignorance," he said.
Under Hernández, Anipac has undergone one of the biggest shakeups since its inception in 1961. New offices, a new, more professional staff, alliances with other trade organizations and the federal government have stabilized the organization and made it more dynamic.
Public relations, long a weakness, have improved, as have Anipac's relations with the government, he said. "They are stronger than ever," said Hernández, a former president of Inboplast, a 40-strong group of plastic bag companies.
A year ago, membership slumped to 190. Today it stands at 240, thanks in part to improved services, Hernández said.
He paid tribute to Managing Director Raúl Mendoza, board executives, commission presidents and others, including late President Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto, a major backer.