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Into the wild blue yonder…

24 June 2007

Every tourist guidebook used to tell you (and still does) that the Mexico City Metro was “French built”. Absolutely true, but then, every metro in the world built in the 60s and 70s was French or Russian. The unspoken message was that Mexico was not an industrial country, so of course, could never build their own subway.

Please… the country has been “industrialized” since about 1900. The “real Mexico” is urban and working class. I think one of the reasons the Mexicans were particularly upset with the stupid Australian game show stunt was that it did play on the old stereotypes of a rural peasantry.

At any rate, just because poor rural folks from Mexico tend to emigrate doesn’t mean the country is primarily rural any more than it means the because Indian PdDs emigrate to the U.S., that India is a country full of math professors.

“Hecho en Mexico” does not mean cheap, or shoddy. Most North American trucks and trains are Mexican. And, coming soon… jets.

I found this in the Fort Wayne, Indiana Journal-Gazette:


Mexico’s aerospace industry comprises about 125 companies and 16,500 workers, most in the northern part of the country. Once little more than a low-cost job shop for U.S. aerospace suppliers, Mexico is handling increasingly sophisticated tasks.

A General Electric subsidiary employs 500 aerospace research and development workers in Queretero. McDonnell Douglas is manufacturing helicopter fuselages in Monterrey. Some large aircraft maintenance operations are setting up shop. U.S. imports of Mexican aerospace products totaled nearly $178 million last year, up 60 percent from 2000. Total aerospace exports topped $500 million in 2006, according to Mexico’s Economy Secretariat.

Government officials want to keep Mexico moving up the supply chain. While it has no ambitions to launch its own national program, as China is planning, it wants more high-value tasks from big companies, including structure and design work and final assembly.

The big challenge for our country is to move toward a technology economy, toward a knowledge-based economy,” said Eduardo Solis, head of investment promotion for Mexico’s Economy Secretariat.

Mexico doesn’t have much choice. It’s fast losing basic industries such as textiles to nations with cheaper labor. So Mexico is looking to capitalize on its success at building products such as automobiles.

Aerospace carries a special cache. The industry has a huge “pulling” effect on other industries such as electronics and metallurgy. Countries that can build something as complex as a jetliner are viewed as having their industrial act together.

The industry is capital-intensive and highly regulated, said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at Virginia-based Teal Group Corp. He said the world’s plane builders produced fewer than 3,600 turbine-powered aircraft last year – so there’s little incentive for new competitors to jump into the business. Existing players don’t need vast amounts of cheap labor; they need highly skilled factory hands. Quality demands are relentless.

This industry doesn’t favor mass production with lots of workers,” he said. “Productivity is the name of the game.”

…. Brazil’s Embraer has made a global splash with its small regional jets.

Embraer’s biggest competitor is Bombardier. The Canadian company is the world’s No. 3 aircraft maker behind Boeing and Airbus. Its main products are business jets, which are experiencing soaring demand, and regional jets, a segment that is struggling. The company has laid off thousands of workers in recent years and is under pressure to reduce costs. That was a major factor in its decision to put a facility in Mexico.

Bombardier’s interest in Mexico began with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who persuaded company officials to consider including his nation in their global manufacturing network. After a lengthy search, Bombardier in late 2005 settled on Queretaro, 140 miles northwest of Mexico City.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sergio permalink
    24 June 2007 10:59 pm

    You are right. I think you should have been a teacher, or maybe you are one. If people want to learn facts about Mexico, they should read this blog.

  2. 25 June 2007 11:55 am


    Last time I paid attention to the Metro in DF, the train carriages all bore plaques saying :” Made in Mexico by National Rail Construction. With technical assistance from Alsthom, France.”

    Now, most of the equipment on the Metro is of French design – and its operating methods are British. But its all ‘hecho en Mexico’ – and proudly so.

    None of this, however, will make any mental impression whatsoever on the kind of brain-deadness that sits through Aussie game shows.

  3. 25 June 2007 1:00 pm

    Ah, thanks for the correction. There were some older cars with the Bombardier label, but you’re right.

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