Mexico: maquilas declined under Fox

Employment and wages declined in Mexican maquiladoras (tax-exempt assembly plants producing for export) during the 2000-2006 administration of former president Vicente Fox Quesada, according to a report by Huberto Juarez Nunez, an economics analyst at the Distinguished Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP). Employment in the sector is now at about 1.21 million, down some 135,000 from the number in 2000. The assembly plants are weak even in comparison to the rest of Mexican manufacturing, which grew only 0.6% in the first three months of this year; the maquiladoras declined by 0.1% in the same period.

Apparel assembly has been the hardest hit, losing about 150,000 jobs since 2000, while employment has gone up slightly in some areas, including the assembly of transportation equipment. But real wages have stagnated or declined overall—by as much as 16% in auto parts manufacturing. Independent unions continue to be virtually non-existent. Juarez Nunez notes that the maquiladoras were expected to spearhead Mexico’s economic development; instead, he says, after 40 years of operation, the assembly sector hasn’t spurred industrial development or added to the total value of the economy. (La Jornada, Sept. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 23

See our last post on Mexico.

See also WNU’s special report, “Protests Rock NAFTA Security Summit—as reports reveal free trade’s empty promise.”