Mexico Growing Beyond a Bit Player on Aerospace Stage

 - February 27, 2009, 8:02 AM

The first decade of the 21st century has seen Mexico’s aerospace sector quietly expand at an impressive rate, and, according to its cheerleaders, the country stands poised for another big leap forward in aerospace capability. New research from Jean-Claude Bouche, a senior aerospace consultant at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, predicts that by 2015 Mexico could become home to as many as 1,000 companies involved in aerospace, including 400 manufacturers (up from 660 firms in 2008, including 190 manufacturers). By then, he said, Mexican industry could be employing 40,000 people and generate exports to the U.S. alone valued at $12 billion.

Judging by the sentiments expressed by speakers at Mexico’s Aerospace Industry conference staged in London and Toulouse during the last week of January, the country might offer greater value and lower risk than more fashionable growth markets of China and India, and for a host of reasons. While Mexico’s cost structures remain higher than those in emerging Asian countries, it by and large has adopted U.S.-style business practices, it has invested heavily in aerospace education, it boasts a dependable and skilled workforce, its currency has retained good value against the dollar and the euro, it maintains user-friendly technology transfer rules, and, perhaps most important, it offers strong legal protection for intellectual property rights (an issue that continues to torment prospective investors in China). According to Bouche, at least one major European airframe maker will soon announce the development of new production facilities in Mexico during the course of 2009.