American Jobs Are Headed to Mexico Once Again

Mexican workers arrive for work at a maquiladora industrial park.
Mexican workers arrive for work at a maquiladora industrial park.

By Thomas Black / Bloomberg

After Donald Trump’s election, the flow of manufacturers setting up shop south of the border dwindled to a trickle. Ford Motor Co. and Carrier Corp., caught in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs, scrapped plans to move jobs to Mexico in two very public examples of the slowdown.

But now the pace is picking back up. Illinois Tool Works will close an auto-parts plant in Mazon, Illinois, this month and head to Ciudad Juarez. Triumph Group is reducing the Spokane, Wash., workforce that makes fiber-composite parts for Boeing Co. aircraft and moving production to Zacatecas and Baja California. TE Connectivity is shuttering a pressure-sensor plant in Pennsauken, N.J., in favor of a facility in Hermosillo.

While Trump hasn’t stopped pounding his America First bully pulpit and the future of Nafta remains uncertain, “there’s cautious optimism and a hopeful attitude that cooler heads will prevail in Washington,” said Ross Baldwin, chief executive officer of Tacna Services, which facilitates relocations.

Baldwin has seen the evidence: After business ground to a halt back in November, he’s now juggling two Mexico-bound clients. San Diego-based Tacna helps manage 4,500 workers in Mexico, where factory wages are about a fifth of those in the U.S. That may explain why Mexican manufacturing jobs rose 3.2 percent in January from a year ago as they dropped 0.3 percent in the U.S.

The renewed exodus shows how difficult it will be for Trump to turn the macroeconomic tide just by jawboning alone.

Trump’s plans to renegotiate Nafta and talk of punitive tariffs can’t erase the need to manufacture in lower-cost countries, said Alan Russell, CEO of El Paso-based Tecma Group., which also helps open and operate factories in Mexico.

“This isn’t about taking jobs from the U.S. — It’s about saving companies.”

El Chapo arrest sparks homicide surge

USAToday – Last year’s capture of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán led to a surge in homicides in Mexico as cartel leaders fought to fill the vacuum created by his arrest. Mexico’s homicide rate for the year spiked to 21.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, a steep rise from 17.5 in 2015 that rivals record numbers earlier in the decade, according to a report released Friday by the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego.

Mexico is a leader in making medical devices

NYT – When President Trump threatens to redo trade deals and slap steep taxes on imports in an effort to add more manufacturing jobs, he focuses largely on car companies and air-conditioner makers. But the medical devices business makes a particularly revelatory case study of the difficulties of untangling global trade. America imports about 30 percent of its medical devices and supplies.

UC schools, Mexico to collaborate on energy research

LAT – Mexican officials have announced $10 million in new funding to support binational research projects on energy efficiency with the University of California. The money, announced after Mexican energy officials met with UC President Janet Napolitano, will go to projects led by Mexican research institutions in collaboration with UC researchers.

Mass grave with 10 bodies found in Colima

UPI – Gov. José Ignacio Peralta Sánchez of Colima said at least 10 bodies were found in a mass grave near the town of Queseria on the border with Jalisco. Peralta Sánchez said that though it is unclear in which state jurisdiction the bodies were found, authorities need to establish not only in which state the bodies were recovered, but where the killings were committed.

2 selfie-taking teens hit, killed by plane in Mexico

MySA – Two teenage girls were posing for selfies when they were killed by a plane in Mexico earlier this week, according to media reports. El Diario de Chihuahua said that Nitzia Mendoza Corral, 18, and Clarissa Morquecho Miranda, 17, were hit while standing on the plane’s landing strip after leaving a horse race March 26 in Chínipas, Chihuahua.

Trump wants $50m Great Lakes cut to pay for wall

MLive – President Donald Trump wants to squeeze this year’s Great Lakes cleanup funding to help make a down payment on a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. A $50 million cut to current fiscal year funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is part of $18 billion in immediate federal budget cuts proposed this week by the White House.

Grupo Mexico to buy Florida East Coast Railway for $2.1 billion

A Florida East Coast Railway freight train rides through West Palm Beach, Fla., in October. (Mark Elias/Bloomberg)
A Florida East Coast Railway freight train rides through West Palm Beach, Fla., in October. (Mark Elias/Bloomberg)

By Anthony Harrup / Wall Street Journal

Mexican mining and railroad company Grupo Mexico has agreed to buy Florida East Coast Railway Holdings Corp. in a $2.1 billion deal, expanding its transport operations in the U.S. with the acquisition of the 351-mile railway.

Grupo Mexico, which operates Mexico’s Ferromex and Ferrosur railways through its transport unit GMXT, said that the acquisition will complement its operations in Texas and increase the reach and scale of its North American rail operations.

GMXT will use $350 million in cash and take on $1.75 billion in debt to finance the transaction, which requires government authorizations before closing.

FEC, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is owned by funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, operates along the east coast of Florida, serving the ports of Miami, Everglades and Palm Beach and handling some 550,000 railcars a year.

Man cleared of sexual assault because he didn’t enjoy it

Newsweek – A Mexican judge has cleared a man of abducting and sexually assaulting a schoolgirl because he did not act with the intention of gaining pleasure from the incident. The judgment on Diego Cruz, 21, was made public on Monday and relates to a controversial case involving four wealthy young men nicknamed “Los Porkys” on social media.

Ex-Chihuahua governor flees to Texas

AP – Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral said during a news conference that ex-Gov. Cesar Duarte has gone to the border city of El Paso and is considered “a fugitive from justice.” Corral said officials would seek an international arrest and extradition order. Duarte is suspected of heading a ring of corruption for personal enrichment.