Mexico: Think Big

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The trade between Mexico and the Netherlands was established almost two centuries ago. The trade relations have only strengthened after, with the most recent development being the renewed trade agreement signed in 2018 which has encouraged bilateral trade even further. Currently, Mexico is the largest export-driven economy in Latin-America. Exports are immensely stimulated by Mexico having more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the world. Ongoing investments in infrastructure demonstrate an aspiration to meet the Government’s
increasing export targets and gain investor interest. Due to this growth, Mexico is forecasted to have the
7th biggest economy of the world in 2050 –  the time to capitalize on this business opportunity is now. 

The low wages in the Mexican industry, combined with its favourable geographical location bordering the United States make its market appealing. Of all its exports, 80% is shipped to the US, as the production costs in Mexico are 25% lower than the costs across the North-border. Additionally, the country is a valued market for the Netherlands and a priority market for Dutch companies to invest in. This has not gone unnoticed, as highlighted by the trade mission organized by RVO and the many investors from all over the globe that have already found their way to Mexico.

Furthermore, there is an abundance of expertise in the Netherlands regarding the upcoming sectors in Mexico and this knowledge is greatly appreciated by Mexican companies. Below you will find a more detailed description of Mexico’s promising sectors.

Sectors

Agriculture

Since the 13th century, indigenous inhabitants of Mexico have been developing innovative ways of ensuring their livelihoods via agriculture by building ‘floating lands’ on which they grew crops. Today, Mexico covers a territory of 198 million hectares, of which 15% is devoted to agricultural crops and 58% is used for livestock farming.  The most profitable agricultural products of Mexico are coffee, sugarcane, and cotton. Additionally, the top production is avocado. Mexico has a competitive advantage as a result of its available fertile land, where the possibility of cultivation of diverse types of crops on a large scale exists.

The challenges for this sector today are to be found in productivity, infrastructure, sustainability, climate change, and water quality and availability. These challenges result in an opportunity for fertilizer suppliers, for producers of machinery and equipment, waste water management improvement, and biotechnology implementation. All fields in which Dutch agricultural companies are very skilled and for which they are highly appreciated and acknowledged by Mexico. For these companies, the time to fill this void in the Mexican agricultural sector is now. 

Automotive

Mexico is home to one of the largest vehicle manufacturers worldwide. The beneficial geographic location and the fact that Mexico has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country makes Mexico an outstanding global export base. Moreover, due to the longstanding history with automotive manufacturing, the country has become well known for an abundance of skilled labour forces that have experience in complex assembly and are able to work for cost-effective wages

Furthermore, the country has built up a reliable supply chain over the past century, which ensures the excellent quality of Mexican automotive products. However, several factors, such as concerns about air pollution, urge the Mexican automotive industry to come up with innovations in the upcoming years to increase the environmental performance of the production and products. Dutch expertise in second and third tier suppliers will be highly appreciated.

Chemicals

Mexico’s chemicals industry presents an enormous opportunity. The country’s vast wealth of natural resources, including medicinal plants, oil to minerals, timber, marine, and agricultural products, can serve as raw materials and create openings for developing new businesses and integrating multiple supply chains.

At the same time, top-down, government-led structural reforms have opened the economy for further investment and will encourage domestic consumption and exports, particularly with the United States.

The largest chemical industry segments include petrochemicals, rubber and plastics, pharmaceuticals, soaps, detergents and cosmetics. The Chemical industry accounts for a production value of 20.4 billion US Dollars.

Decreasing production combined with an increasing consumption resulted in a severe increase in imports (12%) and exports (18%) between 2012 and 2016. This increasing consumption is linked to other growing industries such as the agricultural, automotive, and aerospace sectors. These sectors all demand for chemicals such as lubricants, coatings, paint, fluids and metalwork

Energy

The Mexican energy market faced a revolutionary change due to the 2013 Energy Reform, which broke up the monopoly of the state-owned institutions Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). The energy reform invites foreign expertise, investments, and innovation. This also means that fruitful opportunities lay ahead for the Mexican oil industry.  

On the other hand, Mexico is trying to improve its environmental performance by setting goals to generate 35% of energy consumption through clean sources by 2024. In order to accomplish these goals, specific knowledge is needed which currently is not available in Mexico. 

The innovative Dutch business climate, combined with its expertise in the renewable energy market, promises business opportunities to lay ahead. Sectors with explicit potential are: generated distribution, solar power innovations, the service industry for wind generation, energy storage through water management, and electric public transport and smart charging solutions.

Food & Beverages

The Mexican Food and Beverage market has a bright future with an expected growth rate of at least 6% annually between 2020 and 2023. A notable aspect of this market is the large number of low-income households that spend more than a quarter of their total spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks, on average. 

Mexico has developed its agriculture-food market a lot over the past years. Since 2015 Mexico has exported more than they have imported, with the main destination of their products being the United States. The US accounts for 65% of the Mexican food and beverage exports, with corn, soybeans, and dairy being the three most significant contributors.

There are notable opportunities for imports. Firstly, the Mexican Ministry of Economy has shown signs of interest in diversifying away from its heavy reliance on the US, resulting in a more favourable attitude towards European parties. Secondly, the modernised trade agreement between Mexico and the EU has enhanced the protection of geographical indications, ensuring duty-free import of most EU products and alleviating Sanitary and Phytosanitary barriers for fruit, vegetables, and animal products imports. Thirdly, Mexican consumers have focused more on healthy alternatives of their traditional diet in recent years. This trend is a reaction to the severe obesity problem in Mexico due to all the processed foods that were introduced in the last decade. These favourable factors, among others, make it the perfect time to explore opportunities within the Food and Beverages sector in Mexico. 

Healthcare & Life Sciences

The Maya people already had sophisticated healthcare for their time. They made prosthetics for arms and legs and were able to stitch wounds and use anesthetics for the patients. In modern times, while being well developed, Mexico is in high need for further innovations. The challenges for this sector lie within identifying spaces for effective collaboration between the public and private sectors. Furthermore, supply chains need to become more efficient. Lastly, the sector is seeking greater synchrony between manufacturers, distributors and payers of products. Additionally, the country has a chronic shortage in health infrastructure and hospital beds while at the same time dealing with an aging population. 

The main opportunities for Dutch companies are to be found in Architecture, Construction, Hospital Equipment, providers of healthcare products, and experience in dealing with an aging population. Furthermore, Mexico has one of the most attractive pharmaceutical industries to invest in, due to the improvement of the regulatory framework and the increase in quality certifications. Furthermore, the current presidency announced that it would make increased budgets available for the public healthcare infrastructure and procurement. By entering the market now, Dutch companies will find themselves in an unsaturated market where their product or service can be introduced to healthcare providers before the influx of players emerges.

Manufacturing

Mexico’s large, diversified workforce continues to grow across most manufacturing industries, both in size and sophistication. Due to its proximity to the United States, competitive wage, and transportation inflation in China, Mexico’s manufacturing has expanded enormously over the past twenty years. There is a highly skilled and educated workforce, that has the potential to excel in all the major industries currently found in Mexico.

Although many industries are moving their manufacturing to Mexico, the most prominent industries in Mexico are the automotive, aviation and aerospace, medical device, consumer products, apparel and textile industries. All these industries are currently growing and looking for innovations.

Gone is the day of only simple assembly and low-tech manufacturing in Mexico. Now, the country is attracting large, multinational manufacturers from virtually every industry.  Industries in Mexico now vary across all sectors of business, making it an industry full of possibilities.

Textile industry

The Mexican textile sector comprises natural, artificial and synthetic fibres, textiles, apparels, and textile made-up. It has shown a great viability and vitality during the last years, chiefly after the initiation of NAFTA. Textile manufacturing in Mexico accounted for many manufacturing operations along the border until the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. After that, most of the factories moved to China. However, specialized Mexican textile manufacturers remained, such as leather manufacturing and other products that required a more skilled labour force. These specialized textiles for filters, automotive and medical devices continue to expand in Mexico. The technical textile industry is experiencing continuous growth due to the domestic demand. Futhermore, hyperinflation in China has caused many textile manufacturers to explore Mexico as a viable option.

With a competitive minimum wage to China, clothing manufacturers are considering “re-shoring” their operations back to Mexico. The Mexican textile industry is a suitable location for clothing manufacturing given their need to get products to market quickly for each season and for just-in-time manufacturing practices.

Transport & Logistics

Over the past decades, large investments have been made in Mexico’s infrastructure, as it is now one of the leaders in manufacturing and exports. The continuously improving vast network of highways, maritime ports, airports, and railroads provide the perfect platform for exports. This transport network performs a vital role in trade with its main trade partner, the United States, accounting for 80% of exports. This, combined with Mexico’s multiple Free Trade Agreements, which encompass over 40 countries, including the Netherlands, are key to its successful international trade

Mexico’s transport and logistics sector is still undergoing a major expansion. By the end of 2019, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced an infrastructure plan worth $44 billion, of which most funding is meant to come from the private sector by means of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). In 2018, an agreement on principle was reached on the updated version of the Free Trade Agreement with the EU, removing duties on practically all goods and simplifying custom procedures. The new agreement, once ratified, will increase trade between Mexico and the Netherlands. Consequently, there is a need for improved logistics technology, distribution centers, and warehouse management equipment. Additionally, the attraction of outside capital from the private sector through PPPs and the increasing international trade, offer interesting opportunities for the prominent Dutch transport and logistics sector.

Water

During the past decade, the Mexican water and sanitation sector made major strides in service coverage with water supply and sanitation. Currently, 94% of the population has access to drinking water services, while 89% has sanitation coverage. An expanding economy has led to an increasing number of people formerly living in rural areas relocating to urban areas. This has led to a burgeoning gap between urban and rural demographics. Consequently, investments in water supplies to rural areas have traditionally suffered, and demands for greater water distribution are ongoing. Therefore, the Dutch water industry holds attractive opportunities to provide knowledge and technology in water management to contribute to the country’s fast-rising development.

The subsectors of significant interest in Mexico are: delta, agrifood, sanitation, wastewater treatment, drinking water, and technology development. Moreover, Mexico is an interesting location for Dutch maritime companies due to its strategic geographical position and trade opportunities. Mexico is a major trading hub, with its ports facilitating shipping routes to the US and Europe. 

Other fruitful areas for Dutch businesses in Mexico are leaks, storm- and wastewater management, water treatment and recycling technology. Northern states are looking to Dutch solutions that can be effectively implemented. They have stated to need isolated water treatment systems either for industrial waste or to attend distant communities.