WORLD / AMERICAS
Mexico's president revs up car industry, and wider economy
Published: May 13, 2020 09:13 PM
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will lay out a roadmap on Wednesday for Mexico to reopen its economy, with a focus on the automotive sector whose supply chains are closely interwoven with US carmakers.

A worker disinfects handrails on a street in Mexico City, Mexico, April 6. Photo: Xinhua

The US government and automotive companies have called on Mexico to reopen factories serving the US market, despite the Latin American nation still dealing with a rising number of infections from the coronavirus pandemic. Mexico on Tuesday registered 353 coronavirus deaths in its most lethal day yet.

Mexico sends 80 percent of its exports to the US and became the US' biggest trade partner in 2019, with bilateral commerce worth over $600 billion. Lopez Obrador has been eager to get Mexico's businesses firing again amid forecasts the economy could contract by as much as 10 percent in 2020, plunging the country into its biggest recession in living memory.

Lopez Obrador is set to discuss reopening plans in his daily morning news conference.

Paving the way for a wider economic reopening, the Mexican government's health committee on Tuesday announced plans to put key industries such as the automotive, mining and construction sectors into the "essential activities" bracket.

It also outlined plans for Mexico's health ministry to allow for varying levels of economic, educational and social activities per state, to be defined on a weekly basis from June 1.

Some automotive factories are due to open from Monday.

"Governors are very much in agreement with allowing companies [in the automotive sector] to operate, because then all the money begins to circulate there," said one automotive industry source familiar with the re-opening plans.

Mexican auto output fell by 99 percent in April.
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