Mexico Industry

The industrial sector in Mexico gained a boost during the 1990s through deregulation and the Nafta Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. The industry is versatile, but vehicle manufacturing is particularly extensive and important.

Today, about a quarter of the labor force is in the industry, which contributes to a third of gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for more than four-fifths of the country’s exports.

The free trade agreement Nafta was torn down by Donald Trump when he took office as President of the United States in 2018, but after a renegotiation it has been replaced by a similar agreement (see Economic overview).

Vehicle manufacturing has been going on for decades in Mexico and the country is among the world’s ten largest car manufacturers. There are dozens of companies that put together cars and hundreds that make car parts. At least half a million people work in the automotive industry, which accounts for a large part of exports.

Food, beverages and tobacco account for a significant proportion of the industry that is more targeted at the domestic market. A third major area comprises chemical engineering products as well as rubber and plastic articles. The traditionally important clothing and shoe industry has lost share, but is labor intensive and still employs a relatively large number of people. The industry declined for many years due to increased competition, not least from China. The same applies to the manufacture of computers, telecom equipment and other electronics. However, the trend has reversed. Many companies that turn to the US market now prefer Mexico to China, where costs have increased.

A large part of the foreign investment has been invested in maquila’s, foreign-owned factories, which have been found in special free trade zones since the 1960s. The owners are exempt from taxes and duties and benefit from the low wages in Mexico. There are over 3,000 maquilas that provide work for over a million Mexicans, although working conditions are often harsh. The factories also often create serious environmental problems due to unregulated emissions (see also Labor market).

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Mexico. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.




López Obrador takes office

1 December

Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes over as Mexico’s president. He reiterates promises that Mexico will now undergo “peaceful and orderly but also profound and radical changes”. He calls the neo-liberal economic policies “catastrophic” and criticizes the representative’s reforms of the energy sector. López Obrador intends to refrain from living in the presidential palace, which will instead become a cultural center. He has also decided to sell the president’s jet aircraft and has lowered his own salary by 60 percent.


Migrants are expelled

November 26th

Authorities are expelling nearly 100 Central American migrants since they attempted the US-wide border with Tijuana. The migrants are accused of behaving violently and illegally. A total of around 500 migrants tried to cross the border, but were stopped by barbed wire fences and US border guards using tear gas and rubber bullets. In recent weeks, nearly 7,500 migrants, mainly from Honduras, have reached Tijuana where they now reside in a temporary camp (see also October 2018). US President Donald Trump, who otherwise did not mention the migrants very much after the US congressional elections on November 6, is now again threatening to close the border completely. Trump has sent close to 6,000 soldiers, which is a reinforcement for the more than 2,000 national security guards who normally guard the border.


New migrant caravan crosses the border

October 30th

A new group of around 2,000 Central American migrants has managed to cross the border from Guatemala, as was the well-known caravan just over a week earlier. A migrant is reported to have been killed in a clash with Mexican security personnel on a bridge across the Suchiate border. Like the first group, the new migrants reject the Mexican government’s offer of health care, schooling for children and temporary work permits if they stay and seek asylum in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

No in the referendum on airport

October 28

A referendum gives the go-ahead to stop the disputed construction of a new major airport in Mexico City. Only about 1 percent of voters participate, but 69 percent say no to the building, and instead support the alternative of renovating the existing international airport and also rebuilding an existing military air base. The vote has been held for four days on the initiative of incoming President Andres Manuel López Obrador, who opposes the giant project that the new airport entails. He claims that the building is surrounded by corruption in the million class and that it poses a threat to the environment. But López Obrador has powerful business interests against him. Principal investor Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men, has said that stopping the airport building will be a brake on the country’s growth.

Prominent migrant group across the border

21 October

Hundreds of migrants, most from Honduras, embark on a long march from the United States after crossing Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. Migrants have become “politically hot” since US President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw aid and close the border with Mexico if they are not stopped. Mexico had sent police to the border area but did not stop the cohesive “caravan” of people who jointly decided to continue across the border, despite the authorities. The march began in San Pedro Sula in Honduras on October 12, reportedly following a social media call by a Honduran former Congressman and journalist, Bartolo Fuentes. After arriving in Mexico, more Central Americans join the group and the group is soon said to be 7,000 individuals.


Clearly with a new North American trade agreement

September 30th

At the last moment before a deadline set by the United States expires, a trade agreement becomes clear which also includes Canada clearly (see August 27, 2018). The new agreement replaces Nafta and is called by the US President USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement). Mexico’s incoming president announces a few weeks later that the agreement in Spanish will be called the T-MEC (Tratado Mexico-Estados Unidos-Canada, or Mexico-US-Canada Agreement). The leaders of the three countries sign in conjunction with a G20 meeting on November 30 under the agreement, which must, however, be ratified by the parliaments before it can take effect.

Police force suspected of drug dealing

September 25

The entire police force in the coastal city of Acapulco in Guerrero is disarmed on suspicion of drug infiltration. State police and military take over the guarding of the city while investigating the local police’s involvement in crime. Two police officers are charged with murder. It has happened earlier in the country that local police forces have dissolved due to suspicions of involvement in the lucrative drug trade.


New trade agreement in progress with the US

August 27th

After one year of negotiations, President Trump announces that the United States and Mexico have reached a deal on a new trade agreement to replace Nafta from 1994 (see Foreign Policy and Defense). The settlement is preliminary and must be approved in both countries’ congresses. It is unclear how it is with Canada that has not participated in the negotiations in recent weeks.


PRI replaces its leader

July 16

René Juárez resigns as PRI chairman after the party’s election defeat at the beginning of the month. He leaves the post for “personal reasons”. Juárez was PRI leader for just under three months. New chairman will be PRI secretary general, former Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas.

López Obrador wins the presidential election

July 1st

Andrés Manuel López Obrador wins as expected presidential election, with 53 percent of the vote. Thus, the left alliance wins between López Obrador’s newly formed party Morena and the Labor Party (PT) and the Social Meeting Party (PES). Both main opponents admit to being defeated: Ricardo Anaya (candidate for PAN / PRD / MC) gets 24 percent and José Antonio Meade (PRI / PVEM / Panal) gets 15 percent. In the contemporary congressional elections, Obrador’s left alliance gains the majority in both chambers. The parties receive in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate respectively: Morena 191/55, PAN 81/23, PT 61/6, PES 56/8, PRI 45/13, MC 27/7, PRD 21/8, PVEM 16/7, Panal 2 / 1st


A lot of politician murders

June 29

When a few days remain until the election, it is stated that 133 politicians have been murdered since September 2017, when candidates could start registering. This means a wave of violence that has never been seen before in elections. According to consultancy firm Etellekt, who studied the matter, “only” ten people were murdered in connection with the 2012 election. The victims are mostly local politicians and the perpetrators belong to the drug cartels. Violence also reaches new levels in society: in May, 2,890 murders were registered in the country, which is the highest figure since statistics began to be published in 1997.

“Amlo” seems to have inseparable leadership

June 28

Left Party Morena’s candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Amlo) leads more than 20 percentage points in opinion polls the weeks before the election. López Obrador ranked second as PRD candidate in two presidential elections is now well on its way to taking home the victory as candidate for his outbreak party Morena, formed after the 2012 election. power mafia “. He gets around 48 percent in voter polls, against 26 percent for Ricardo Anaya for PAN and 21 percent for PRI’s José Antonio Meade. Morena and allied parties can, according to the measurements, also get their own majority in Congress and win six of nine governor-held positions at stake.

Trade war threatens with the United States

June 5

The government announces that duties are imposed on, among other things, whiskey, cheese, steel and pork from the USA. The message comes since the US on June 1 introduced steel and aluminum tariffs that hit Mexico, among others. A trade war is now threatening, if it has not already started. According to analysts, Mexico has selected items that particularly hit the Republican mounts before the US midterm elections in November. US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has said that tariffs are also being imposed on Mexico and Canada in part because the Nafta renegotiations are going so slow. Mexico and Canada refuse to agree to some of the US demands in the negotiations.


UN: “Security forces behind disappearances”

30 May

There are many indications that Mexican security forces are behind a wave of kidnappings in the city of Nuevo Laredo, on the US border. This is stated by UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. At least 21 people have disappeared in the city since February, often since being picked up by people in uniform. Three of the missing are only 14 years old, according to Zeid. According to a local human rights group, there are 40 missing persons.

Deadly violence before the election

May 8

A candidate in the Guerrero state election, Abel Montufar Mendoza, is found shot dead in his car in Ciudad Altamirano. Around the country, at least five other candidates for the July 1 election have only been murdered in the last ten days. Another at least 80 politicians have been murdered since the election campaign began in September 2017. This applies mainly to candidates at the local or regional level, where the criminal gang is fighting for control and influence.


Pacific free trade agreement clear

March 8th

Mexico, together with ten other countries, sign the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Parthership) Free Trade Agreement. The agreement is also called TPP-11 and is a slightly revised version of TPP. The changes are a result of the US withdrawing from the TPP before it came into force. The CPTPP is presented as a counter to the anti-free-trade policy pursued by US President Donald Trump.

Police suspects in cases of missing Italian

March 3rd

A criminal investigation is being launched against four police officers who are suspected of handing three Italians to a criminal gang in the state of Jalisco. The three men disappeared on January 31, after being stopped by police at a gas station. Media sees parallels to the case of the 43 teacher students who disappeared in Iguala (see September 2014).


Independent presidential candidates

February 19

Three people have managed to get together the 860,000 signatures required to stand in the presidential election as an independent candidate, the election authority announces. The three are ex-President Felipe Calderón’s wife Margarita Zavala, former Nuevo León Governor Jaime Rodríguez Calderón and Senator Armando Ríos Piter. This is the first time that independent candidates are allowed to stand in the presidential election. Zavala left the husband’s party PAN 2017 and then accused Ricardo Anaya of having elbowed himself up to the party’s nomination.


Strengthened security in violent tourist resorts

30th of January

More than 5,000 police officers are sent to popular tourist destinations such as Tijuana, Los Cabos and Cancun to invite increasing violent crime resistance. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the increased security presence should quickly overcome the violence.

PRD supports PAN candidate in presidential election

January 16

Ricardo Anaya, who is the right-wing PAN presidential candidate, also becomes the left-wing PRD’s candidate, in accordance with the Valallian parties formed (see November 2017). However, the election of Anaya has been preceded by a group within the PRD leaving the party to join Morena further out on the left. The PRD has never before supported a presidential candidate outside his own party. Anaya, like the main opponent López Obrador, points to the fight against corruption as the most important election issue.

Mexico Industry

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