Mexico City — Some of Mexico's largest industrial associations have reacted positively to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's plan to turn economically deprived areas of the country into thriving industrial areas.
"It's a great opportunity to help under-developed regions," Raúl Mendoza, director of the Mexico City-based National Association of Plastics Industries AC (Anipac), told Plastics News.
The Confederation of Industrial Chambers of the United Mexican States (Concamin), with which Anipac is affiliated, "manifested its confidence" in the new government.
"Mexico needs all of us to get to work to create the conditions for a better future," Concamin President Francisco Cervantes Díaz said in a news release.
Luis Aguirre Lang, president of maquiladora association Index, told reporters Dec. 5: "I'm totally in agreement with the new economic zones. These measures will help bring dynamism to the north of the country." Index stands for Consejo Nacional de la Industria Maquiladora y Manufacturera de Exportación.
Anipac's Mendoza was referring specifically to López Obrador's plan to build a railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, from Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico to Salina Cruz on the Pacific Ocean, a distance of 140 miles.
The idea is to make it easier to access markets in Asia and along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, López Obrador said during his address to Congress immediately after taking the oath of office as Mexico's 58th president Dec. 2.
"The plastics industry sees important opportunities" in López Obrador's projects, said Mendoza. But he added it would seek assurances that electricity and raw material supplies will be guaranteed, security concerns addressed and a qualified labor market fomented throughout Mexico.
López Obrador has canceled the sale of oil exploration rights to private investors — a key part of his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto's heralded energy reform — banned fracking and announced plans to spend $8 billion on building Mexico's seventh oil refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco, his home state. He is also committed to encouraging renewable energy projects, including wind, hydraulic and solar energy farms.
A week after López Obrador became president, Enel Green Power México S de RL de CV, an affiliate of Italian company Enel Green Power SpA, announced the construction of the Parque Eólico Dolores wind farm in Nuevo León state with a capacity of 244 megawatts, sufficient to supply 650,000 homes with electricity. The company expects operations to start in the first half of 2020.
Other López Obrador plans include bolstering the economies of states bordering the U.S. by introducing a 20-mile-deep special economic zone" where taxes and gasoline prices, not to mention investment incentives, will be on a par with states north of the border.
The hope is that would-be migrants to the United States will find work in Mexico's northern states and decide not to attempt to cross the border.
López Obrador also wants to build a railroad through hundreds of miles of Mexico's southeastern region to develop manufacturing industries and tourism.
But his controversial decision to shelve the building of a new $13 billion international airport on the southeastern edge of Mexico City has upset many in Mexico's private sector, including Index's Aguirre.
Work started four years ago and a third of the project is finished. Aguirre believes the cancellation is mistaken and that much more has to be done to improve commercial and freight flight interconnections across the country.