Mexico City — The 24th edition of Plastimagen México gets underway in the Mexican capital Nov. 7. It should provide an indication of the regional industry's prospects over the next few years in the wake of COVID-19.
Many consider Plastimagen to be the most important plastics trade show in Latin America. José Navarro Meneses, managing director of Tarsus México, which owns and organizes it, goes further describing it in a recent magazine interview as the "fifth-largest and fifth-most-important" plastics expo in the world.
Navarro expects 30,000 visitors to attend the show over its four days. A full program of conferences is also on the books.
Plastimagen, held every 18 months, is back to its pre-pandemic size of 870-plus stands, double the number seen at the previous edition in March 2022. The last "normal" Plastimagen took place in April 2019. The 2020 show was postponed. The 2021 edition was a hybrid in-person and virtual affair, while most Asian companies and visitors stayed away from the 2022 edition
The show this year covers 430,556 square feet of the sprawling Centro Citibanamex, which accounts for 21 percent of the iconic center's 1.9 million square feet.
The exhibition features 14 international pavilions and a 15th one manned by Mexico's national plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico A.C.).
The economic outlook has been grim for several years, according to some observers.
At the height of the pandemic, KraussMaffei Group's leading executive in Latin America said COVID had had a disastrous impact on national economies across the region.
"A lot of people are saying Latin America has lost 10 years of development due to the pandemic," Klaus Jell, the German injection molding machine maker's vice president responsible for Latin America, told Plastics News in the spring of 2021. "It's difficult to see where the recovery will come from," he added.
Mexico, he said, was typical of countries across the region. "The government is not giving [financial] incentives to businesses. A lot of our customers are struggling. Interest rates are high. Banks are more cautious about credit. The risk factor is also playing out. We don't have a really strong government."
Despite the negativity, the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration believes Mexico's plastics market "represents a strong opportunity for U.S. exporters due to its many applications in various sectors and final products."
A commercial guide, published Nov. 5, states: "Plastic products and resins count among the top two U.S. export categories to Mexico in 2022. Mexico is also the largest destination for U.S plastics, processing machinery, equipment, and peripherals."
Mexico's plastics production has grown steadily at an average of 5.27 percent annually since 2018, the report says. Adding that the country did experience a "significant shortage of resins.
"Nevertheless, manufacturers maintained timely production and delivery schedules and [the] production of plastics grew by 13 percent compared to the previous year . Mexico's total plastics imports reached $41.52 billion in 2022, 61 percent ($22.6 billion) of which came from the United States."
Positive factors for the plastics industry, it adds, include "a burst in nearshoring activity and new orders received from the United States and Canada driven by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)."
Mexico's plastic industry was valued at $52 billion in 2022, the report says, with opportunities for continued U.S. participation in selling capital equipment, resins, plastic materials, plastic parts, and molds.
"Growth in the automotive, aerospace and other leading industries will likely continue to create opportunities for U.S. exports of manufactured parts and new engineering materials. Additionally, food- and beverage-related packaging, as well as construction subsectors, are seeing an increase in the demand for plastics."