Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Mexico produces very little in the way of high-tech machine tools, automation equipment and robotics, creating an opportunity for Wisconsin companies.

The U.S. has traditionally been the main trading partner for machinery imported into Mexico. However, in the case of high-tech machinery, while the U.S. is still the main import source, other countries are gaining ground. In the case of CNC honing machinery, the U.S. has been the largest import source during seven of the last eight years, but Japan, Germany and, increasingly, China have significantly contributed to imports during this period.

Mexico has become a manufacturing hub for high-tech manufacturers, consumer electronics, home appliances and other products, as well as an important assembly hub, especially near the U.S. border. As of 2016, Mexico was the number-one worldwide exporter of fridges and flat-screen TVs; the second-place exporter of air conditioning and water heating equipment; the third-place exporter of washing machines and stoves; the fourth-place exporter of personal computers, speakers and laptops; and an important exporter of other equipment and products such as vacuum cleaners, furnaces and fans—and even components such as microprocessors and semiconductors. Even given these figures, the main industries supporting the use of high-tech and CNC machinery are the automotive and aerospace industries, which are currently booming.

Figures from Mexico’s secretary of the economy show a clear trend of CNC honing machines with virtually no exporting activity, and a significant and increasing importing activity, bringing to Mexico larger numbers of CNC honing machinery. While the total is not that large, since 2013 there has been clear growth in importing CNC honing machinery, increasing from 15 to 51 in just four years—more than a threefold increase.

Foreign companies manufacturing CNC equipment, and machine tools in general, have strong business opportunities in Mexico given the currently increasing demand for such products and the fact that the country has a low rate of domestic production, which forces manufacturers to turn to international producers.

Mexico produces very little in the way of high-tech machine tools, automation equipment and robotics, and the industries driving high demand for these products (mainly automotive, but also aerospace, electronics, home appliances and others) show no signs of slowing down—rather, the contrary, even given the current issues with free trade agreement revision. However, CNC machine products imported from the U.S. face strong competition from other high-tech countries—namely Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and especially China and Japan, given their excellent reputation and competitive prices.