Article originally published on September 21, 2020 by Charlotte Gifford for World Finance.

There’s a reason China has been named “the world’s factory”. According to data published by the United Nations Statistics Division, China accounted for almost 30 percent of global manufacturing output in 2018.

China earned this status in a relatively short space of time. According to The Economist, in 1990, China produced less than 3 percent of global manufacturing output. It first overtook the US, previously the world’s manufacturing superpower, in 2010.

But the US-China trade war has prompted many companies to re-examine global supply chains. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that companies could shift a quarter of their global product sourcing to new countries in the next five years. Climate risks, cyber attacks and the ongoing pandemic are only accelerating this trend. In this uncertain trade environment, a growing number of countries are hopeful that they could replace China as the world’s next major manufacturing hub.


So far, Vietnam has been one of the main beneficiaries of the US-China trade war, absorbing much of the manufacturing capacity that China lost. As well as cheap labour and stable politics, the country boasts increasingly liberalised trade and investment policies that make it an attractive place for businesses looking to diversify out of China.

Some of the biggest names in tech have relocated some of their operations to Vietnam since tensions between the two powers soured. In early May 2020, Apple announced it would produce roughly 30 percent of its AirPods for the second quarter in Vietnam instead of China.


A lesser-known beneficiary of the trade war is Mexico. In a report, the investment bank Nomura pointed out that Mexico could become a top destination for US companies, with the country having set up six new factories in a range of sectors between April 2018 and August 2019. In addition, Taiwan-based manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron, known as contractors for Apple, are among a number of companies currently considering shifting their operations to Mexico.

Mexico’s proximity to the US poses a major advantage as US companies embrace “near-shoring”. The Trump administration is exploring financial incentives to encourage firms to move production facilities from Asia to the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.


In recent years, India has significantly stepped up efforts to attract manufacturing investments into the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Made in India” initiative is designed to help the country replace China as a global manufacturing hub. A cornerstone of this plan involves encouraging the world’s biggest smartphone brands to make their products in India. In June of this year, the country launched a $6.6bn incentive programme to boost electronics manufacturing production in the country.

So far however, the country has seen only modest gains from the trade war. Analysts blame India’s stringent regulatory environment; on the Organisation for Economic Development’s FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index, India ranks 62nd out of 70 countries.


Between 2018 and 2019, the Malaysian island of Penang saw a surge in foreign investment. Much of this came from the US, which spent $5.9bn in Malaysia in the first nine months of 2019, up from $889m the year before, according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority. US chip maker Micron Technology announced it would spend RM1.5bn ($364.5m) over five years on a new drive assembly and test facility.

However, the loss of trade from China has hit Malaysia hard. Many tech firms in Penang rely on China for as much as 60 percent of their components and materials.


Singapore’s manufacturing prowess has somewhat depleted in recent years. While manufacturing contributes about 30 percent of the GDP of Taiwan and South Korea, it makes up just 19 percent of Singapore’s.

However, the trade war and the coronavirus pandemic could change this. As a trade hub with liberal trade and investment policies and a history of stable economic growth, Singapore is well-positioned to boost its manufacturing capabilities and capitalise on this opportunity.

However, like Malaysia, Singapore is also struggling with the knock-on effects of decreased demand from China. The export-dependent country has seen its manufacturing output slump as a result of the trade war – a sign that the country could benefit from greater independence from China.

Employees walk at the Toyota Motor Corp new plant in Apaseo El Grande in Mexico’s central state of Guanajuato, Mexico February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Maldonado

By Anthony Esposito

APASEO EL GRANDE, Mexico (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will ramp up production at its new Mexican plant to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2021 in a major step to shift production of its popular mid-size Tacoma pickup truck to Mexico from the United States, the company said on Thursday.

The plant in the central state of Guanajuato, along with an older facility near the U.S. border, will bring Toyota’s Mexican production to 266,000 trucks a year when at full capacity, Japan’s largest automaker said.

Toyota said it expects to send 95% of pickups from the two plants to the United States, where the automaker sold nearly 249,000 Tacomas last year, up 1.3%.

“Tacoma production will be concentrated right here in Mexico,” Christopher Reynolds, a chief administrative officer for Toyota in North America, said at an event to inaugurate the Guanajuato plant. “What this means is that the Mexican manufacturing facilities of Toyota will build all the Tacomas that serve the mid-size pickup segment in the North American market.”

Toyota said last month it will move Tacoma production from the United States to Mexico as it adjusts production around North America. It said the decision would “improve the operational speed, competitiveness and transformation at its North American vehicle assembly plants based on platforms and common architectures.”

Asked about the possibility of angering U.S. President Donald Trump with the decision to move Tacoma production to Mexico, Luis Lozano, head of institutional relations for Toyota Mexico, said, “We don’t make business decisions based on politics. We are a company that thinks about the very long term and that we’re going to be here long after many people have gone.”

Lozano noted that Toyota maintains a big production footprint and employs more than 30,000 workers in the United States.

Toyota has pumped $700 million into the Guanajuato site, which began operating last December. Toyota began making Tacoma trucks in 2003 at its plant in Mexico’s northern border city of Tecate, where last year it turned out close to 167,000 pickups.

Automotive exports from Mexico fell for the first time in a decade last year, dragged down by weak demand from outside the United States, and industry groups project another drop in 2020.

Lozano said the company will not need to make major supply changes on the back of the new regional U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade accord that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump had criticized.

One of the biggest changes requires increased North American content in cars and trucks built in the region – to 75% from 62.5% under NAFTA – with new mandates to use North American steel and aluminum.

In addition, 40% to 45% of a vehicle’s value must come from “high wage” areas paying workers at least $16 an hour, namely the United States and Canada, a provision aimed at slowing the industry’s migration to lower-wage Mexico. Vehicles that fail to meet the standard would be subject to U.S. tariffs.

“We don’t have to make very large adjustments within our value chain in North America because for a long time we have had a value chain which is very deep, very sophisticated and very integrated,” Lozano said.

“It is not an issue that will require greater efforts or investments to comply. We will fulfill it to the letter.”

Article originally published by Reuters on February 6, 2020:

By Zachary Evans

President Trump on Wednesday signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We have replaced a disastrous trade deal,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “This is something we really put our heart into.” 2

Both the Senate and House passed the USMCA by wide margins with bipartisan support. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called the agreement a “bipartisan success,” and said he was “grateful to the leadership of the House” and Democratic and Republican lawmakers for their work.

The USMCA updates certain aspects of NAFTA in light of technological advances made over the past two decades. The new agreement sets parameters for the free exchange of information among North American countries.

The USMCA also updates certain rules on tariffs. Auto manufacturers will be required to produce a greater amount of parts in the U.S., while U.S. farmers will be granted unfettered access to the Canadian market.

The agreement includes new labor laws and enforcement mechanisms, aimed at giving Mexican workers an easier shot at unionizing. These new provisions were instated after complaints by Democrats and manufacturers that Mexican workers’ inability to demand fair pay applied pressure on U.S. jobs.

While Mexico has already approved the USMCA, Canada’s parliament still must ratify the agreement, a process which may extend into April. Once that is complete, the North American countries must carry out steps prescribed by the agreement and verify that those steps have been completed in order for the deal to take effect.


As the trade war with China continues, more companies are looking south of the border with new interest.

As of 2019, Mexico is the largest goods trading partner with the U.S. with over $600 billion in imported and exported goods. This relationship has created 1.2 million jobs as of 2015, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Commerce. It’s also been reported, as of February 2019, that U.S. trade with Mexico increased 3.36%, while trade with Canada decreased by 4.12% and with China by 13.52%. This illustrates the direct impact of the current administration’s trade war with China in particular, which ultimately has had negative repercussions for the U.S.

Generally speaking, products manufactured in Mexico are high-mix, low-volume, such as automotive and aerospace parts. This level of product is more expensive to move from China to North America when compared to shipping from Mexico. They also require more engineering skills than many products manufactured in China, which trend toward low-mix, high-volume, such as sunglasses or clothing.

As a result of Mexico’s cost-effectiveness, global companies with a stake in the North American market, including Nestle and the BMW Group, have increased investments in their Mexican factories in recent months. In 2014, Nestle planned a $1 billion investment over five years to build and expand three of its factories in Mexico. And earlier this year, the BMW Group announced its new automotive plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico as a boost to their “regional production flexibility in the Americas.”

Mexico’s advantage today

Manufacturers that have not expanded operations internationally or have previously looked to China as their sole trading partner have started to consider manufacturing in Mexico as an alternative. For enterprises considering such a move, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of expanding operations to Mexico as opposed to China.

First, Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. means lower shipping costs and the ability to work in similar, or the same, time zones. Conversely, manufacturers that already have foreign business relations with other countries may be less inclined to learn new processes and compliance measures necessary to operate in Mexico. For example, in Mexico, companies maintain independent operational control. Whereas, in China, manufacturers must partner with a local company or investor, which can lead to challenges regarding confidentiality and bureaucratic decisions.

Second, manufacturers can benefit from Mexico’s skilled trade workforce at a lower labor cost relative to the U.S. or, at times, China. Currently, Mexico’s minimum wage is equivalent to $4.70 per day compared to the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, or approximately $58 per day. Among China’s main provinces, including Shanghai and Beijing, the monthly minimum salary is equal to $364 or approximately $12 per day. For manufacturing positions specifically, the wages have increased. For example, along the border, salaries are approximately $3.50 to $4 per hour for production line workers. Whereas a similar position in the U.S. for a production line averages around $14 – $16 per hour.

Additionally, it’s far easier for companies to travel south of the border for training, quality control, logistical matters and to maintain open communications, thereby limiting potential disruptions in production.

Third, U.S. companies can take advantage of the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing in Mexico under the country’s IMMEX program.

Working under Mexico’s IMMEX program

Formerly known as the maquiladora program, IMMEX offers tax benefits to foreign companies that are manufacturing in Mexico. Namely, they aren’t required to pay value-added tax (VAT) on temporarily imported materials, as well as machinery and other equipment, since they will be delivered back to the U.S. as a finished product. This is only applicable for companies that operate under the IMMEX program as a standalone entity or as a shelter operation. Those that decide to create a standalone entity in Mexico must pay the 16% VAT while they wait for their VAT certification to be approved. This is costly to businesses as the approval time can take several months. Since a shelter company already maintains VAT certification, this helps businesses start their operations in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

With regards to perceived disadvantages, maintaining compliance under the IMMEX program is one of the biggest challenges that most companies that operate under this program face. Foreign manufacturers operating as a standalone entity must track and report all goods that are temporarily imported. In addition, they must understand and follow all program regulations and pay the accompanying taxes as they are updated. Without the assistance of an in-country shelter corporation (which is responsible for securing all necessary permits and licenses, leasing operations facilities, and ensuring all legal compliance obligations are met) manufacturers may face labor and legal compliance issues.

The Future of Manufacturing in Mexico

In November 2018, the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached a new agreement to ensure “more balanced, reciprocal trade.” Although NAFTA remains valid, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) can go into effect following Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) procedures and approved legislation. Regardless of changes, the concern over possible tariff increases may be considered a drawback of operating in Mexico or any other foreign country.

The Trump administration stated in May 2019 that it would impose a 25% tax on all Mexican goods. This increase would have had major implications for both the U.S. and Mexico. As of now, the scheduled tariffs have been “indefinitely suspended,” according to President Trump, but it is a factor manufacturers consider when deciding where to expand operations. However, it’s important to keep in mind the Trump administration’s tariff plan, if implemented, wouldn’t incur changes overnight. It would happen incrementally with the opportunity for a compromise or resolution to take place at any point during the process.

Mexico continues to be an optimal foreign manufacturing choice for firms due to its proximity to the U.S., access to a skilled labor force, and historical competitive advantage for the automotive, aerospace, electronics, medical device and other industries. Many U.S. manufacturers have experienced the benefits of working with Mexican shelter companies for years and more are considering the advantages this trade relationship provides, especially amidst the ongoing trade war with China.

Article originally published on Sept.3, 2019 by Sergio Tagliapietra on

President Donald Trump just announced that the US will place tariffs on nearly all Chinese products headed toward America next month — a decision that brings his trade war with Beijing to its most contentious point yet.

In a Thursday afternoon Twitter thread, the president said his administration will put a 10 percent tax on $300 billion in Chinese goods starting September 1. That would encompass almost all of the remaining products the US has yet to place tariffs on, effectively meaning there will soon be no free trade between the two countries.

This means that for the first time, Chinese toys, clothing, shoes, and consumer electronicslike iPhones will now face penalties. That will add to the 25 percent tariffs on $250 billionworth of other Chinese products Trump announced in May, and could potentially lead to higher prices for Americans to pay for these goods later this year.

The reason for the president’s newest decision, he explained in his tweets, is that the US and China have not yet been able to reach a much sought-after bilateral trade deal. What’s more, the president said, Beijing has not lived up to its promises of buying more American agricultural goods or stopping the export of fentanyl — a drug fueling the opioid crisis — into the US.

As a result, the president felt compelled to punish China further, despite the fact that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping remain friendly. That relationship may explain why the president is still open to more negotiations with Beijing.

“We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!” he tweeted.

While trade experts expected this announcement — the administration has teased it since the beginning of the trade war — few are happy that the day has actually come.

“However unfortunate, President Trump’s next round of tariffs come as no surprise,” the Peterson Institute for International Economics’s Chad Bown told me. “All along, he has shown a lack of concern over the implications of his trade war.”

This was always the likely outcome of Trump’s China strategy

The Trump administration’s China strategy, current and former senior administration officials told me last year, is effectively to crash the Chinese economy. Placing tariffs will not only make the country’s products more expensive for Americans to buy, but will also induce multinational corporations to move their manufacturing plants and offices to other nearby countries.

So while Trump wants to make a deal with Xi — partly to end China’s theft of American intellectual property and other aggressive trade practices — he’ll settle for destroying China’s economy in the meantime.

Still, the US and China have been negotiating for months in efforts to strike an agreement. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were in Shanghai this week specifically to meet with their counterparts. However, they didn’t sign an accord, though they promised to talk again next month.

The failure to reach a deal is not all the administration’s fault, though. Multiple outlets reportedthat China had abruptly backed away from huge chunks of a 150-page agreement in May, making changes and reneging on commitments throughout the entire document.

That action continues to bother the president. “We thought we had a deal with China three months ago, but sadly, China decided to re-negotiate the deal prior to signing,” he tweetedThursday.

While Washington and Beijing may be closer to signing an accord than at the start of the process, then, they’re still not close to putting pen to paper. Which means the US-China trade relationship will have to endure even more tariffs for months to come — further imperiling the two countries’ ties.

Article originally published by Alex Ward on

NAI Mexico’s Quarterly Business Planning Meeting took place on July 1-3 in Tijuana, and brought together members from all NAI Mexico’s 12 national locations to continuously improve  advisory services for our global clients.

The event included conferences and workshops and industry experts and government officials who participated in the 2020 planning.

Mr. Carlos Higuera, new appointed president of the Tijuana EDC met with the team to present the strengths of the Cali Baja Region and the advantages it provides for foreign companies. An interactive dialogue followed to discuss political changes, the tariffs situation and best practices in business for Mexico—- to attract more foreign investment.

At the end of Wednesday’s session, the team reviewed Mexico case studies and then headed to the famous Sotano Suizo to debrief and celebrate the conclusion of another successful regional meeting.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico on Wednesday became the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreed late last year to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump.

By a vote of 114 in favor to 4 against, Mexico’s Senate backed the trade deal tortuously negotiated between 2017 and 2018 after Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if he could not get a better trade deal for the United States.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had said the deal would be ratified this week in the Senate, where his leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies have a comfortable majority in the 128-member chamber.

There has been little parliamentary opposition in Mexico to trying to safeguard market access to United States, by far Mexico’s most important export market, and the deal received support from nearly all the opposition lawmakers who voted.

Mexico sends around 80% of its exports to the United States, and Trump has vowed to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if Lopez Obrador does not reduce the flow of U.S.-bound illegal immigration from Central America.

Canada, which has also fought with Trump over trade, is pressing ahead to ratify the deal. The main question mark hanging over its ratification is in the United States, where Democratic lawmakers have threatened to block the process.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he believed Democrats’ concerns on enforcing labor and environmental provisions in the USMCA can be sorted out quickly. He spoke just hours after Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she still has many concerns over USMCA.

Trump, who had excoriated the 25-year-old NAFTA as a “disaster” for U.S. workers, wants to claim a first major trade deal victory as the campaign for the 2020 presidential election begins. The Republican formally opened his re-election campaign in Florida on Tuesday and two dozen Democrats are competing for the party’s nomination to run against Trump.

Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s previous president Enrique Pena Nieto signed the USMCA on Nov. 30, 2018 after months of often acrimonious talks stretching back to the American president’s first few days in office.

Article originally published by Miguel Angel Lopez on

Many U.S. manufacturers with highly intensive processes are feeling a cost crunch, and Mexico could be the solution they’re looking for. 

Manufacturing industries of all kinds are moving part of their operations south of the border in order to reduce costs, receive more convenient shipping, and make travel to and from their facilities much easier than manufacturing in China.

Many companies are likely to benefit from this nearshoring opportunity, but there are a few industries that have seen recent surges, in addition to the top mainstays that rely heavily on nearshoring to Mexico as part of their business operations.

For decades, powerhouse industries including automotive, aerospace, information technology, medical device manufacturing, and electronics have maintained good trade relationships with Mexico as part of a cost-effective supply chain solution. Among these companies are global brands including Ford Motor Co., Honeywell, Toyota and Samsung to name a few. These industries are able to stay competitive by taking advantage of the convenient logistics, highly-skilled workforce, and more cost-friendly operations and labor Mexico has over China.  In more recent years, other industries have seen the advantages of nearshoring to Mexico as well. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Office furniture
  • Stamping and metal mechanics
  • Plastics (to some extent)
  • Wire/cable harnessing
  • Textiles (automotive and industrial applications)

Additionally, according to Inbound Logistics, one in every six U.S. jobs is now tied to manufacturing, thanks to the digital age of 3D printing, big data, and robotics. To meet growing consumer needs and sustain business operations, Mexico is becoming an increasingly popular option for any and all manufacturing industries that want to mitigate costs without compromising quality.

Despite the growing interest in trade-related positions in the U.S., nearshoring to Mexico means access to a skilled, experienced workforce at a lower labor rate. Research continues to show one of the greatest challenges for U.S. manufacturers is attracting skilled labor even as trade and technical school enrollment slowly sees a resurgence. HVAC degrees make up almost half of the enrollment for post-secondary education in these intense, labor-focused fields with electrical, welding, and auto body collision repair following. Many Mexico vocational schools are set up in conjunction with companies and the government to train in these industries. The result is a strategic operational solution that allows foreign companies a competitive edge at a more economical rate.

Nearshoring to Mexico in Today’s World

In today’s world, trade disputes continue between the U.S. and China, which is causing more manufacturers to consider building new factories and moving operations to Mexico. NAFTA has grown and flourished over the years to help the U.S., Mexico, and Canada thrive. Companies in the 1990s and ‘00s originally looked to China as a cheap labor force but faced intellectual theft, among other challenges, which led people to turn to Mexico and other countries for its supply chain needs. Mexico follows similar IP laws as the U.S. and Canada to protect against fraud and theft. Proximity-wise Mexico also makes more logistical sense than China due to more compatible time zones, lower travel costs, and how quickly products are shipped and received.  

When considering nearshoring to Mexico, manufacturing industries should look at the country as a whole. For example, Northern Mexico is popular due to its familiarity and proximity to the border, but there are areas farther out that are not as competitive nor as expensive. Additionally, foreign companies benefit from the high level of sophistication involved when using Mexico’s nearshore services. Mexican facilities maintain certifications, including ISO, as well as a highly-skilled workforce, which makes recruiting competitive. There has been a growing number of engineering and manufacturing graduates in Mexico, which means U.S. industries must be ready to provide ongoing training and invest in the people for long-term retention and production control.

Generally speaking, nearshoring is a regular practice among a growing number of manufacturing industries. It’s not only the mainstays of the global automotive companies or aerospace firms that are nearshoring to Mexico anymore. Industries like metal mechanics and woodworking are experiencing a labor crunch in the U.S. due to employees retiring from these industries and a new wave of employees not interested in factory work. As a result, they are turning their attention south of the border to meet operational needs.

Companies that choose to work with an experienced shelter provider in Mexico benefit in many ways from setting up operations, including minimized risk and a more cost-effective solution. In short, manufacturers want a low-cost solution that’s nearby, which has led to a surge of North American companies to consider Mexico as a viable solution.

Sergio Tagliapietra is currently President and CEO of IVEMSA. He has spent the last 30 years pioneering administrative service solutions in Mexico as the head and founder of IVEMSA. Today, working with governments in all parts of the continent, he is one of the country’s most respected business leaders in the field.

Article originally published on