Michelin breaks ground on plant in León, Mexico

Michelin breaks ground on plant in León, Mexico

LEÓN, Mexico (Aug. 24, 2016) — Group Michelin has started construction in Mexico of its 21st factory in North America — eight years after the global economic crisis of 2008 forced it to postpone the project.

“I’m really excited because a few years ago, in 2008, I had to come to this country to postpone our investment because of the crisis,” Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard told Tire Business Aug. 22.

“At the same time I was incredibly impressed by the way the Mexican authorities took the news. So coming back with the decision (to revive the project) is a joy.”

Mr. Senard had earlier hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the 242-acre site in central Mexico where the French tire company is investing $510 million in what, according to one senior executive, will be Michelin’s first greenfield passenger tire plant in North America in three decades.

In a speech, Mr. Senard said the León investment is the tire maker’s largest investment anywhere in 2016.

“The last time we launched a greenfield passenger tire plant in North America was over 30 years ago,” Scott Clark, executive vice president and COO of Michelin North America, said in a separate interview with Tire Business.

“So this is not something we do every day. This is a big deal and this is exactly the right place to be and at the right time.”

The factory, which will employ 1,000 when finished in late 2018, will be within a threehour drive of 18 car maker assembly plants, Mr. Clark said. It is located in a new industrial park called León-Bajio, which stands beside the León-Silao highway.

 

“The new Michelin investment in Mexico represents a vote of confidence that strengthens the positioning of Mexico as an investment destination, because it comes from a company with a long tradition in the industry and widely recognized for its commitment to innovation”

Idelfonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s federal economy secretary.

 

Source: http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/20160824/NEWS/160829978

 

Security Concerns Take a Back Seat as More US Manufacturers Look to Mexico

Mexico City (CNSNews.com) – Experts who help foreign companies build factories in Mexico report a recent surge in interest by U.S. and international firms, with executives voicing less concern about Mexico’s crime and security problems.

“We’ve seen a 40 percent increase in inquiries about building factories in Mexico compared to where we were last year,” Ricardo Rascon, a salesman with The Offshore Group in Tucson told CNSNews.com.

“It has surged dramatically in recent years,” he said. The number of companies approaching the company looking to build facilities in Mexico is not as high as it was prior to the financial crisis of 2007, however.

Half of the increased interest is coming from U.S. companies, while the other half is from companies located in Canada, Germany, South Korea and even China, Rascon said.

“We signed our first Chinese company this week. They are moving a product line from China into Mexico for the logistical advantages for serving the U.S. market.”

Companies in Germany in particular were also showing a “big interest” in building factories in Mexico to be closer to the U.S. market, Rascon said.

U.S. companies that move to Mexico don’t always shut down in the U.S., but often instead open new factories in Mexico to be closer to suppliers, he said.

Rascon also said company executives were asking fewer questions about crime in Mexico than was the case several years ago.

“I could tell you three or four years ago, security was the first thing people would ask, but now it’s on the back burner. Now, all they ask about is cost.”

According to the business data firm Dun & Bradstreet, inquiries from multinational companies about locating in Mexico have increased by 20 percent through June just this year, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

A recent survey of companies that moved jobs overseas to take advantage of lower wages and costs in Asia, but now want to relocate them back to North America, found Mexico to be their “first-choice destination” over the United States.

A third of the companies surveyed said they were now actively looking at moving “primary production and assembly operations currently located in China, India and Brazil back to North America,” it said.

Entitled “Footprint 2020: Expansion and Optimization Approaches for U.S. Manufacturers,” the survey was sponsored by Deloitte and The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

In a report this week analyzing corporate credit worthiness in Mexico, Moody’s Investors Service said free trade agreements make Mexico especially attractive to U.S. automakers Ford, GM and Chrysler.

“Hourly industry wages in Mexico are well below rates in Brazil, South Korea and even China,” the report said, noting that the auto manufacturing industry in Mexico is now the seventh largest worldwide and the country’s second largest industry.

“Mexico’s auto-parts manufacturers depend heavily on North America, which bought 82 percent of their exports in 2015, far more than South America (8 percent) or Europe (6 percent),” the report said.

A 2015 survey of 250 senior-level manufacturing and distribution executives in North America and Western Europe by the consulting firm Alix Partners found “continued appetite for nearshoring” with a 32 percent of those surveyed reporting they had recently moved production facilities nearer to their customer markets.

Fifty-five percent of the North American companies said they preferred to locate in the U.S. in order to be closer to their markets while 31 percent favored Mexico.

The firm’s research showed Mexico’s popularity with manufacturers had declined in 2015 from 49 percent three years earlier, possibly due to security concerns.

Asked about security concerns in Mexico, the number of respondents saying they “expected improvement in those areas” dropped from the previous year’s survey.

 

Reshoring is the New Offshoring – But it’s Not Just a U.S. Trend

The offshoring trend that has dominated manufacturing footprint strategy for the last 30 years was based on solid benefits: lower labor costs, access to raw materials, inexpensive rent, etc. However, many factors such as the significant travel involved in managing overseas business, proximity to the U.S. market, perpetually shifting regulations and intellectual property concerns are significant deterrents for companies to offshore their manufacturing lines. OEMs with constantly scaling or smaller volumes find it especially hard to justify the hassle and expense involved in offshoring. As a result, many OEMs are reversing the trend and moving to a reshoring strategy, and they have sound rationale for doing so. While the United States manufacturing industry has plenty to celebrate with this trend, the movement is more broadly focused on North America as a whole, and Mexico is an especially attractive location for manufacturers.

According to a Deloitte report, 66 percent of survey respondents have offshored manufacturing work overseas in the last two decades. Among those, a third are now considering relocating operations to North America, with Mexico being their first choice and the United States their second.

Mexico offers several key benefits that make it especially attractive: lower labor costs, advantageous land and facility cost structures, more favorable transportation logistics expenses and increased proximity to the U.S. market are a couple of examples.

However, some of the obstacles and concerns manufacturers had about Mexico years ago remain today – transportation infrastructure, security concerns in certain areas and access to skilled labor are a few examples. That is why the component distribution model employed in the U.S. can’t be easily replicated in Mexico and that is also the driving force that led TTI to create a sustainable model that would allow it to fully serve this growing market buyers.”

How International Issues Affect Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate

How International Issues Affect Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate

There’s no doubt that international buyers love U.S. real estate. In 2015, 15.4 percent of all commercial real estate buyers in the U.S. were from overseas, according to financial and professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

On the residential side, the National Association of Realtors reports international buyers purchased 4 percent of existing homes sold in the U.S. in 2015, which made up 8 percent of the total dollar amount of existing homes sales for the year at $104 billion. The biggest foreign residential buyers in 2015 were from China ($28.6 billion), Canada ($11.2 billion), India ($7.9 billion), Mexico ($4.9 billion) and the U.K. ($3.8 billion), according to a study examining Chinese real estate investment conducted by the nonprofit Asia Society and real estate economics firm Rosen Consulting Group.

Foreign investors have long viewed U.S. real estate as a good place to diversify their portfolio and benefit from theworld’s strongest economy. But in recent years, hard assets in the form of U.S. property has also become an option to safely store money. “We’ve become what is today, I guess, the largest offshore loca- tion in the world,” says Ed Mermelstein, an international real estate attorney based in New York.

But what happens to an investor’s interest in U.S. real estate when international events affect his or her home country and lead to uncertainty over the future?

From economic meltdowns abroad to terrorism to squabbles over European Union membership, the growing international role in major U.S. real estate markets means we’re more likely to see the impact of those issues, says Ross Milroy, owner and broker at Ross Milroy Realty in Miami.

“The Miami real estate market – and I think New York is very similar as well –we’re so dependent on the international buyers, and they’re such a huge part of our market,” Milroy says. “A lot of our real estate markets do not follow traditional patterns, and a lot of our demand is dependent on what’s going on in those home countries of our buyers.”

 

“We’ve become what is today, I guess, the largest offshore location in the world,”

Ed Mermelsteinand, Managing Partner at Rheem Bell & Mermelstein, LLP

Mexico's Tourism and Foreign Investment Rankings Climb

Mexico’s Tourism and Foreign Investment Rankings Climb

Mexico got some good economic news this week on two fronts as new international surveys showed the nation moved into the world’s top 10 tourism countries and also boosted its ranking for U.S. foreign investment.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said Mexico had moved back into its list of the 10 most visited countries in the world. This is very good news, since tourism accounts for more than 8 percent of Mexico’s GDP. By contrast, oil accounts for only about 6 percent of GDP.

In this sense, increasingly the tourism sector becomes vitally important for the country, especially in a context of a strong dollar and weaker oil market. That is why the news released a few days ago by the UNWTO is so well received by officials and policy makers.

Why Is Globalization Less Popular in Developed Economies Today While Latin America Seems Ready to Continue Its Embrace?

Why Is Globalization Less Popular in Developed Economies Today While Latin America Seems Ready to Continue Its Embrace?

There are two clear groups in Latin America: those countries in favor of free trade, mainly the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico), and hopefully Argentina, and those against free trade (the rest). In particular, Brazil has no free trade agreements. It has a closed economy, and although the depreciation of its currency aids commodity exports it has little effect on the country’s manufacturing exports. The divide between both groups can be explained by the experience individual countries have had: some have benefited more than the rest.

What’s the best way to achieve consensus about globalization with diverse interest groups as you tried to do in Mexico in the 1990s?

Free trade can be asymmetric in its distribution of benefits to the general population, and public policies should accompany free trade to make benefits more symmetric for all members of the soci-
ety. “Globalization imposes restrictions that have to be addressed with the adequate public policies.” As an example, Mexican states like Aguascalientes, Queretaro and Guanajuato (just to mention a few) have invested considerably in education and its population is generally in favor of globalization. In contrast, states like Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas (among others) have done little investment in their human capital and are thus generally less in favor of globalization. Public policies matter and education should be a top priority to achieve consensus and for the general population to share the benefits of free trade. At a national level, Mexico now produces more engineers per capita than the U.S. (0.93 per 1,000 inhabitants vs. 0.75).

What’s the fix for the strong and sometimes distortive capital inflows that come with globalization?

I see three components. One: having a balanced budget that gives you the flexibility to have a small deficit or surplus when necessary. Second, a truly independent central bank that can adjust monetary and exchange rate policies to affect liquidity when necessary. Third, a flexible labor market in which it is relatively simple to hire and fire workers and in which compensation is based on productivity rather than being mainly fixed. It is also recommendable to have adequate public policies in place such as unemployment insurance for the general population to avoid the negative effects of such flexibility.

What can make immigration more acceptable in developed economies where many unskilled native workers are suffering from low wages?

An emergency training program for adults, handled at the municipal and state levels, in order to make it easier for them to either get employed again or to increase their labor income, would be one example. It is crucial to get the private sector involved in this process so that schools teach the skills that are actually demanded by the market. Mexican cuisine is a great example of the benefits of globalization, so in Mexico what food or drink would you point out to your kids as an example of the way they also benefit from globalization?

Bosch to Invest Approximately $80 Million U.S. over the Next Four Years

Bosch to Invest Approximately $80 Million U.S. over the Next Four Years

QUERETARO, Qro, Mexico – Bosch announced today that it has signed a property lease agreement for a greenfield site and will establish a new facility in Querétaro, Querétaro, Bajio region, in central Mexico. The announcement was made with the support of the governor of Querétaro state, Francisco Dominguez Servien; Marco Antonio Del Prete Tercero, minister of Sustainable Development of the state; and Marcos Aguilar Vega, mayor of Querétaro City. This new facility represents the first time that Bosch’s Automotive Steering division will have operations in Mexico.

Bosch will begin construction of the facility soon, with completion scheduled for the end of this year. Bosch is investing approximately $80 million U.S. over the next four years to establish the 15,000-square-meter (160,000-square-foot) facility in Querétaro. Production lines will be installed beginning in January 2017, with start of production in December 2017.

Bosch plans to hire approximately 600 associates by the end of 2019, with further growth planned.

Startups Can Escape Their Cash Crunch by Going to Mexico

Startups Can Escape Their Cash Crunch by Going to Mexico

DURING A RECENT business trip to the Mexican state of Jalisco, I became intrigued by the number of foreign young professionals that I saw from the moment I deplaned at the airport in Guadalajara. I asked a local associate if this was normal or if an international convention was going on in town. He said that while large-scale events were a daily occurrence, most of these folks were Americans either working at one of Jalisco’s high-tech multinational companies or running their own startups.

This last statement caught my attention because it signaled an evolution in NAFTA that I had anticipated back when I helped negotiate the agreement more than 20 years ago in Congress. Mexico’s high-tech manufacturing industry coupled with tariff-free technology imports would foster a critical mass of gadget consumers who would demand software and content specifically tailored to them.

Prior to NAFTA, the high-tech industry in Mexico was limited to low-wage, labor-intensive assembly operations. But reforms initiated by the agreement opened a new era of investment in Mexico’s tech sector. Hardware companies are now able to bring their money through multinational banks to invest in equipment design and capital-intensive manufacturing lines. Software companies and app developers, meanwhile, enjoy full protection by courts under very stringent copyright and patent laws.

At the same time, however, I learned that Jalisco’s emerging software industry is still in its early stages and in great need of greater technical expertise. I immediately saw this as an opportunity for US startups to meet the needs of a new business-to-business market while at the same time increasing their cash flow by saving substantially in operating costs. For these startups, a move to Mexico could mean surviving that dreadful gap between initial investment and revenue generation known as the Valley of Death. Jalisco, my associate said proudly, wasn’t only welcoming these international entrepreneurs, but actively recruiting and incubating them, including small companies from Silicon Valley like Ooyala, Wizeline, and 3DMX.

To help draw more high-tech companies to Jalisco, Governor Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval created a cabinet-level Innovation Department upon taking office. He’s also leading a revitalization of Guadalajara’s historic downtown by building a 940-acre media-oriented business hub for TV, film, advertising, video games, animation, interactive multimedia and e-learning. Firms such as Kaxan, Inzomnia, Ocelot, and Metacube have already opened doors even though construction is still underway.

The existing tech industry base in Jalisco is already formidable, with firms such as IBM, HP, Oracle, and Latin America media titans Televisa and TV Azteca. Startups that land these corporations as customers can secure an immediate revenue stream, not only helping them overcome their startup curve but gaining them long-term stability for growth. Many of Jalisco’s domestic industries, such as agribusiness, manufacturing, and the service sector, are also increasingly incorporating technology into their operations.

Other advantages include tech-hungry venture capitalists, business advocacy organizations, hundreds of bilingual high-tech graduates joining the workforce each year, and sound telecommunications infrastructure. But most importantly, a half-day flight away from home and on US Central Time, Jalisco offers an enviable quality of life in a community that is home to nearly 40,000 American and Canadian expats.

Software giants such as Softek and Hildebrando are examples of companies that started in Mexico and now have large operations headquartered in the United States, employing thousands of American high-tech workers. They offer a roadmap that could be replicated by expat enterprises willing to capitalize in a thriving emerging market like Jalisco’s and return later to expand their businesses back home in the US.

High-tech in America was born from startups. Jalisco has acknowledged this power by using NAFTA rules to attract international small businesses and startup entrepreneurs. In other words, foreign investment is no longer just the business of big corporations. Jalisco has earned the moniker of “Mexico’s Silicon Valley” because it recognizes that knowledge is capital. Investing that capital in Mexico could be a startup’s gateway into the global market of technology and innovation.

For those of us who had the little guy in mind when we were negotiating NAFTA, this is a dream come true.

 

Source: http://www.wired.com/2016/02/startups-can-escape-their-cash-crunch-by-going-to-mexico/

International Location Report: Mexico’s Economy is Setting Production Records

International Location Report: Mexico’s Economy is Setting Production Records

Mexico has long been one of the strongest trading partners with the U.S. and a preferred “nearshore” location for U.S. manufacturing operations. Manufacturing is at the core of the Mexican economy and represents a wide range of industries. Manufacturing investments are stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and making Mexico a top FDI location in Latin America.

“Mexico has significant momentum right now in the area of manufacturing,” says Larry Gigerich, managing director for Ginovus, a site location firm in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Many global companies view Mexico as a favorable manufacturing and distribution location due to its lower costs, good incentive programs, and proximity to one of the largest economies in the world — the United States.”

According to many experts, Mexico’s economic growth for 2015 is expected to be in the 2.5–2.9 percent range — very strong compared to the rest of Latin America, which is averaging about 0.5 percent. In June 2015, year-over-year business investment had increased by 8.6 percent. Mexico is expected to do even better in 2016 — a growth rate of about 3.2 to 3.5 percent.

Growth Across Industrial Sectors
Mexico is the seventh-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and the sixth-biggest manufacturer of auto parts, with an estimated $81.5 billion in sales in 2014,” according to Doug Donahue, vice president of Business Development with Entrada Group, which helps manufacturers set up operations in Mexico. “Manufacturing also received the most FDI in 2014 — about $13 billion,” Donahue says.

Foreign investment in factories in Mexico is on the rise, even for industries that have been China-bound in the past. At the top of that list are global automakers that are investing heavily in new assembly plants. Companies that have made recent announcements include Nissan, General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler.

In March VW indicated it would spend $1 billion expanding a Mexican plant to build a small SUV for the U.S. and some foreign markets,” says John Boyd, principal with The Boyd Company, a location consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey. “In Hermosillo, Ford Motor Corp. is doubling production and hiring 1,000 workers to build its new Fusion model. Combined, automakers and parts suppliers have earmarked more than $20 billion of new investments,” Boyd says.

Rising labor cost in China and overly extended and risky supply chains to Asia are helping make Mexico the preferred nearshore location for many Boyd clients in other manufacturing sectors, such as medical devices, plastics, and food processing. Donahue agrees: “Even though automotive and aerospace are among the high-profile manufacturing industries of Mexico, we are seeing growth among our entire customer base, including electronics, consumer goods, and heavy transport, along with automotive and aerospace OEMs and Tier 1s,” he adds. “This growth is not only driven by the attractive Mexican manufacturing market as compared to the rest of the world, but also Mexico’s internal market growth.”

Mexico’s many free trade agreements are also factors helping it to attract new industrial investment.

A Productive Workforce
Mexico’s unemployment rate is about 4.3 percent — a reflection of reforms that were implemented by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012, including an improved minimum wage, women’s worker rights, and better labor union accountability. Some of his business-related reforms — for example, allowing foreign development of energy reserves and breaking up corporate monopolies — have also encouraged business investment.

“Regarding job performance, once Mexican employees have been brought on and trained, we have seen them to be highly dedicated and productive employees and, in many cases, more productive than their U.S. or Canadian counterparts,” says Donohue.

In the past, he notes, the major reason manufacturers set up operations in Mexico was to take advantage of lower labor costs. “Now, however, more training is required as suppliers are requiring higher competencies and skill sets. This is causing wage pressures and retention concerns, as more and more suppliers are coming into Mexico, and they all are competing for the same labor.”

Investing in the Future
To maintain its economic momentum, Mexico plans to invest more than $100 billion through 2018 to improve its transportation infrastructure. “Mexico realizes that, in order to attract international OEMs, Tier 1s, and their suppliers, it must establish a solid transportation infrastructure throughout the country,” Donohue says.

To keep up with the hiring needs of its manufacturers, the Mexican government is also investing heavily in further education and training of its workforce, creating more specialized programs with input from the commercial sector. Increasing funding, however, for such government education programs remains a challenge and may have to be gained through tax increases.

A bright spot is the emergence of Mexico City as a global financial center. Mexico City currently houses the headquarters of the country’s largest banks, insurers, and many international financial service companies for Latin America.

“Citigroup in Mexico City reportedly produces almost three times as much revenue than all 16 Citigroup branches in the rest of Latin America,” says Boyd. “Banco Santander Mexico’s $4.13 billion public stock offering in 2012 was Mexico’s largest ever in the financial sector, a strong sign of the revival of the nation’s financial services sector. After many years of economic missteps, these and other successes show Mexico is emerging as Latin America’s most promising relocation and investment market,” Boyd concludes.

 

Source: http://www.areadevelopment.com/InternationalLocationReports/December-2015/Mexico-Economy-Setting-Production-Records-452233.shtml

Mexico Receives 2016 in a Still-Competitive Position

Mexico Receives 2016 in a Still-Competitive Position

Mexico has been actively working to improve its competitiveness, and kicks off 2016 as an attractive country for investors worldwide.

Mexico saw moderate growth in 2015; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) attributes the slowdown to the fall in US industrial production, financial market volatility and reduction in oil production.Still, the country increased four positions in the most recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Competitiveness Ranking (from #61 to #57). The improved ranking is due to the efficiency of Mexico’s financial and goods markets, improvements in the business sophistication and fostering innovation categories, and recentlyimplemented reforms. Some of the biggest changes being in areas such as energy, telecommunications, economic competence, labor and education.
New international free trade agreements were also put in place to help revamp the national business environment – to date, Mexico holds agreements with more than 50 countries. Export diversification and foreign direct investment also saw significant improvement during 2015. The country’s involvement in thePacific Alliance – an initiative to boost the economy and enhance the region’s connections with the rest of the world – has also helped keep its position as the 13th biggest economy in the world and the 11th based on purchasing power.  It is expected that Mexico will be the 7th largest economy worldwide by 2050.
More alliances on the horizon
Mexico has been actively participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) since 2012, a pact between 12 countries to increase Made-in-America exports, promote economic growth and secure jobs, among other things. If implemented and maintained successfully the TPP is expected to be the world’s largest trade partnership in 20 years, and will give Mexico access to principal economies, including those in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mexico and Hong Kong have announced plans to begin a Reciprocal Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (RIPPA) in 2016. It provides national and foreign investors a legal framework that offers stronger protection for foreign investment in Mexico and Mexican investment abroad. Hong Kong is already a large trade partner of Mexico and a big destination for Mexican exports to the continent. The IMF estimates Mexico’s economy will grow from 2.3% in 2015 to 3.0% in 2017 if there is an increase in private consumption, investment and manufacturing exports. The country’s journey towards the digitalization of the accounting, payroll and taxation processes will also bring changes to the business customs this year.
Source: http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2016/01/mexicos-2016-competitiveness-ranking-bodes-well-for-foreign-investors/