Mexico - Country Commercial Guide
Plastics and Resins

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-02

The plastics and resins industry is a best prospect for U.S. exporters in Mexico. This section includes a market overview and trade data for this sector.

Overview

Plastics were among the five top U. S. export categories to Mexico in 2020. Mexico is also the largest destination for U.S. tools, dies, jigs, peripheral equipment, and molds.

Mexico’s total plastics imports totaled USD 27.5 billion in 2020, 63 percent of which (USD 17.4 billion) came from the United States. Mexico is the largest market for U.S. exporters of plastics products (HS-39), totaling USD 14.7 billion in 2020, and the second-largest destination for U.S. rubber (HS-40), which totaled USD 2.7 billion in 2020.

Mexico’s plastic production has grown steadily at an average of 3.5 percent annually since 2016. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic shutdowns, the plastics industry experienced significant disruptions in 2020. According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía or INEGI), production in the sector fell 11. 2 percent, which was enough to affect the majority of small manufacturers. Small- and medium-sized (SME) producers were highly impacted and many were forced to shut down operations completely.

Analysts estimate that it may take until at least 2023 for the Mexican economy to completely recover to 2019 levels. Manufacturers hope to maintain sustainable growth rates as Mexico completes its implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and negotiates other free trade agreements with key economies. Industry experts forecast that USMCA is likely to increase the opportunities for growth in the sector by substitution of parts that will no longer be imported from countries outside of North America. 

The plastics and resins industry sector in Mexico was valued at more than USD 39 billion in 2020, with opportunities for continued U.S. participation in the sale of capital equipment, resins, plastic materials, and plastic parts. Recycling technologies are also being considered by producers as the industry is urged to create sustainable economies to satisfy worldwide environmental commitments. In light of the above, bioplastics are being developed by companies, as an alternative to reduce non-recyclable waste. 

Mexico’s plastic market is driven by the packaging and construction sectors, which account for 47 percent and 12 percent of the market, respectively. Growth in the automotive, aerospace, and other leading industries, are likely to continue creating opportunities for U.S. exports of manufactured parts and new engineering materials.

Mexico’s Plastics and Resins Production and Market Size  
(Figures in USD billions) 

  

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021**

(Estimated)

Total Local Production

20.77

21.83

21.88

19.43

19.43

Total Exports

11.81

12.70

12.70

12.11

12.11

Total Imports

30.03

32.32

31.44

27.49

27.49

Imports from the U.S.

20.02

21.52

19.94

17.44

18.32

Total Market Size*

38.99

41.46

40.62

34.82

34.82

Exchange Rates

18.91

19.23

19.26

20.00

21.00

*Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports
Sources: INEGI; **2021 estimate of market growth of 5 percent, from the IMF

Leading Sub-Sectors

Mexico’s plastics sub-sectors are capital equipment, plastic resins, plastic materials and parts, and plastic recycling.

Packaging

Packaging is the largest driver of Mexico’s plastics industry, representing 47 percent of market demand. Plastic packaging products consumed by the food and beverage industry are manufactured locally; however, specialized containers and pallets, as well as totes and bins with electrostatic discharged coatings utilized in production and final packing products, are in demand by manufacturers. Thermoformed plastics packaging is also in high demand. Many companies in this sub-sector are competing to supply the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, automotive, and medical device manufacturing industries. 

Construction

Representing 12 percent of market demand, plastic products built for the construction industry are good prospects for sales in Mexico. In the last few years, Mexico’s construction industry has switched from being traditionally metal-based to now integrating plastics in water and gas piping, windows, doors, roofing tiles, and coverings. The construction industry expects that in the short term more plastic products will be in demand as it adopts alternative building techniques.

Auto Parts

Plastics and rubber products have helped the automotive industry reach its goal to reduce vehicle weight by 30 percent, and demand continues to increase. Auto parts are sourced by corporate buyers and any U.S. exporter currently selling to automotive firms in the United States are the first option to supply foreign plants if they have the capacity and logistics in place to ship overseas. Otherwise, most manufacturers’ preference is to have suppliers located near their plants.

Furniture

Furniture is a large and growing subsector. While the sector is still developing and may not be the top prospect for U.S. exports right now, the proliferation of plastic products for the recreation industry will likely continue to drive growth in this industry.

Agriculture

The use of plastic pipe and films for agriculture has grown alongside the proliferation of small local manufacturers that produce in small volumes to serve regional clients. These producers largely use recycled plastics as feedstock, which many collect and process themselves.

Textiles

Non-woven textiles are very popular in the recreation industry. There are a good number of Mexican manufacturers of non-woven fibers. During the COVID-19 pandemic these became even more popular, as they serve as the raw material for many medical protective garments.

Opportunities

The U.S. Commercial Service Mexico is happy to assist you in exploring market opportunities in the plastics and resins sector. Below are some highlights.

Capital Equipment

Mexican manufacturers have a keen preference for U.S. extrusion machinery and technology. The most popular imports from the U.S. include auxiliary equipment for plastics processing. Mexico’s plastics manufacturers are attractive prospects for extruders, blenders, mixers, and automation solutions for primary and secondary plastics processing.

Plastic Resins

Mexico’s plastics industry is experiencing critical material shortages of polypropylene, PVC, and polyurethane. Production at Etileno XXI, the current source for Mexican primary resin materials, was reduced due to a conflict with Mexican Petroleum (Petróleos Mexicanos or PEMEX), the state oil company. Construction of the Dos Bocas refinery, the planned second source for these resins, is progressing slowly and will not be a solution to this shortage in the short-term.

Large foreign suppliers of plastic resins have the best opportunities to sell to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). OEM deals are managed by headquarters-based buyers who concentrate purchasing decisions worldwide. Small- and medium-sized suppliers are better off selling to tier manufacturers. Small U.S. exporters of resin should target the numerous small- and medium-sized manufacturers operating in the various industrial regions in Mexico.

Plastic Materials and Parts

Mexican industry has experienced an increased demand for plastic parts. Foreign companies establishing plants in Mexico require a continues supply of sophisticated high tolerance plastic automotive components, which is an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers.

Buyers of auto parts often require their suppliers to establish operations near their plants. Although this may be a challenge for U.S. SME automotive parts producers, it is good to consider that these buyers prefer the experience and capabilities of certified suppliers.

As more Mexican companies automate their materials handling, storage, and palletizing operations, the need for higher quality, reliable pallets will increase.

Plastics Recycling

Mexico recycles about 14.5 percent of the plastics consumed in the country, and has seen no significant increase in this figure over the last five years. Mexico is not a good market for foreign PET sales since it is more cost-effective to source locally; however, other recycled plastic materials may be in demand by a variety of industries. Most large Mexican companies recycle in-house for their own consumption as a way to assure compliance with health and environmental standards. Plastic recycling technologies and high purity recycles will be in demand in the next few years. Since waste-to-energy technologies are opposed by environmental groups and the current Mexican administration, they do not offer a good opportunity for U.S. exporters.

Barriers

Customs and Environmental Regulations

There are no barriers to the importation of primary plastics products into Mexico. Plastic resins and materials pertaining to HS3901 through HS3926 originating in the USMCA region are free of duty.

Regulations and standards

Mexico lacks scientifically based standards related to determining the impact of single-use plastics. Current regulations rely largely on subjective ideas of the damage being done to the environment by these products. Mexican authorities need assistance from technologically prepared laboratories to assist in defining the tangible impact caused by these plastics.

Some Mexican states have banned single-use plastics. The Mexican Senate is considering measures to harmonize this policy nationwide, but in the meantime, some states will continue with these measures.

Resources

  • Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico (ANIPAC)
  • U.S. Dept. of Commerce Trade Stats Express
  • Manufactura Magazine
  • Ingenieria Plastica (online magazine)
  • Plastics Technology Mexico
  • Ecología y Compromiso Empresarial, A. C. (ECOCE)

Events

  • Expo Plásticos 2021, Expo Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco
  • Plastimagen 2022, Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City
  • Expo Pack, Expo Santa Fe, Mexico City 
  • Meximold, Querétaro Centro de Congresos, Querétaro City, Querétaro
  • For other important events in the plastics industry please consult: anipac.org.mx/eventos

Contacts

For more information on plastics and resins in Mexico, please contact:

Mario Vidana

Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service—Monterrey

Tel.: +52 (81) 8047-3118

Mario.Vidana@trade.gov