N.M. Lawmakers Look To Mexican Manufacturing

The Mexican manufacturing plant, called a maquila, is part of an industry New Mexico hasn't fully capitalized on yet.

JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) - Sixteen New Mexico lawmakers filed past a large, gray piece of whirring machinery. Somewhere inside, bright blue ink was being packaged for Sony videos.
The legislators - all members of the Finance Committee - moved on to a different area where workers manually cut shapes from thick stacks of printed cardboard. Elsewhere, employees designed print layouts using Macintosh computers.
The Mexican manufacturing plant, called a maquila, is part of an industry New Mexico hasn't fully capitalized on, said New Mexico Border Authority Director Jaime Campos.
''New Mexico needs to develop that supply chain to support the industry that's across from the border,'' he said.
Mexico imported $95.3 billion last year in supplies and raw materials maquilas. In 2005, New Mexico exported $185 million in goods to Mexico, according to the International Business Accelerator.
New Mexico could stand to account for a larger share of that market, said Jerry Pacheco, director of the group.
On Thursday, legislators toured the 50,000-square-foot facility owned by Monarch Litho Inc., a printing company, which also has a presence in Santa Teresa, N.M.
In the maquila industry, large companies often operate two plants - one in the United States that produces materials or parts for larger products and one in Mexico, which takes advantage of lower labor costs to handle production.
The company's Juarez plant employs about 170 people, who earn an average of $10 per day. The New Mexico plant has about 70 employees.
Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said the perspective legislators gained from the tour could lead to legislation or capital outlay approvals that benefit border trade.
''I think the maquila industry is a good thing,'' she said.
Jorge Pedroza, the executive director of the Juarez Maquila Association, said the industry is seeking suppliers that are closer geographically to Juarez in order to cut costs.
One way for New Mexico to attract more supplier companies is to improve infrastructure at the state's port of entry because maquilas regularly ship products across the international border, he said.
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