A governor from Mexico has wrapped up a quiet two-day trip to Ontario designed to seek investment from the Canadian auto sector and strengthen trade relationships between the two.
Gov. Francisco Domínguez Servién from the state of Querétaro, Mexico, met Premier Kathleen Wynne Nov. 9 and Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) President Flavio Volpe Nov. 10.
In a statement, the premier shed little light on the discussions, including whether U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s call for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were on the agenda. The premier did say Nov. 9 that she was concerned what might become of the 22-year-old NAFTA under Trump, who wants it terminated.
“Governor Domínguez and I met to discuss trade opportunities between Ontario and Querétaro and to explore new areas of collaboration,” Wynne said. The government did not respond to requests for additional information.
“Relationships with jurisdictions like Querétaro are important and this meeting helped to strengthen our already significant economic ties,” Wynne said. “Several businesses have operations and facilities in Querétaro, including Magna, Martinrea and Windsor Mold.”
Volpe said it was an important outbound trade mission for the governor. The APMA estimates that 25 Canadian auto parts makers operate upward of 50 facilities in the state of Querétaro. Canadian auto investment there represents 40 per cent of total automotive investment in all Mexico, Volpe said.
“The Number One subnational destination for Canadian subnational auto investment in Mexico is Querétaro,” he said. “It is the Number One host and partner for Canadian parts and tool and mold making companies in that country. The growth rate is about 20 per cent per year.”
That’s because Canadian parts companies need to be where the business is as OEM customers for Canadian parts companies have expanded rapidly in Mexico over the last decade, Volpe said. Since 2014, Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG, Mazda, and Ford, to name a few, have made or promised major investment in Mexico.
“To service those customers there’s increasing pressure to build capacity in that geographic proximity,” Volpe said. “A lot of it has landed in Querétaro because that state has a strong mix of skilled labour, predictable and stable regulatory environment and a transparent and robust infrastructure plan.”
Those are key conditions for companies to get parts to their customers, he said.
“I think sometimes … local Canadian governments would see Mexican jurisdiction as competition,” Volpe said. “The governor was probably bringing the message that the Canadian investments are not transplants, they’re expansions.”
Volpe would not say what, precisely, he and the governor discussed. He would only say he was acting as a liaison for some parts manufacturers that his association represents and the state of Querétaro.