Ciudad Juárez: Heart of Mexico’s Maquila Industry

Ciudad Juárez, located in the state of Chihuahua along Mexico’s northern border, is one of the most important areas in the country for maquiladoras—factories that take raw materials, transform them and export the finished product. The city’s shared border with El Paso, Texas in the United States, facilitates trade and export and makes it one of the most important and interdependent sister cities areas in the world due to its well-developed industry and business clusters.

Nearly 60% of the city’s economy is focused on the maquila industry, with most companies being dedicated to carrying out activities for international companies in Mexico in a variety of industrial processes. As such, Ciudad Juárez leads the nation in generating employment in the maquila sector. The more than 300,000 jobs in maquiladoras mean that these companies employ a large part of the city’s economically active population.

Though several industries are represented in the maquila sector in Ciudad Juárez, 59% are in the automotive and auto parts industry, followed by electric and electronics at 27%, in addition to medical devices with 6%. There are also more than 370 companies enrolled in the IMMEX program in Ciudad Juárez, many of which are from the United States. Sixty-nine percent of the foreign direct investment in the area comes from its northern neighbor, with another 13% from Canada.

Automotive manufacturing in Mexico

Ciudad Juárez’s industry and vocation for manufacturing have a long history in the region dating back to the 1940s. As such, it has become a key area in many supply chains, especially automotive manufacturing Mexico and OEMs in the United States. It also has well-developed clusters, including the BIO El Paso/Juarez biomedical cluster that promotes medical devices manufacturing Mexico and accelerates the establishment, expansion, and attraction of biomedical companies in the region. In manufacturing, the Chihuahua Advanced Manufacturing Cluster is a group made up of industry leaders who help strengthen and expand regional companies through the triple helix model—forming relationships between members of academic, governmental institutions, and industry.

Though its main attraction in terms of connectivity is its land border crossing with El Paso, Texas, it also has the Benito Juarez international airport with direct flights to the largest cities in Mexico and the nearby El Paso International Airport across the border, which has direct connectivity with many of the main cities in the US. In addition, it has rail access to both countries with access to the international rail system provided by Union Pacific, Burlington-Santa Fe, and Ferromex in Mexico.

Some of the most important companies in electronic manufacturing Mexico in the region include Foxconn, Wistron, and Honeywell, which assemble computers for Dell and HP. In the medical and medical devices manufacturing Mexico sector are Cardinal Health, Cordis, and Beaver Visitec. In addition, there are a large number of companies operating in the automotive and auto parts industry including, Affinia, Brake Parts Inc., WWCPI (Wayne Wire), Xinlida Autoparts, Brentra Group Foxconn, Wistron, Lear, Delphi, Aptiv, Honeywell, BRP and Werner, which supply parts to the majority of OEMs for auto manufacturers in the United States and some in Mexico, making the area key to the United States Auto Parts OEM supply chain. Other important companies in the area include Toro, which produces sprinklers and lawnmowers, and Electrolux, one of the world’s largest home appliances manufacturers.

Electronic manufacturing in Mexico

Its 1.4 million inhabitants enjoy a mild climate, with an average temperature of 82 degrees in the summer and 41 in the winter and the area is home to more than 22 universities. Each year 123 engineers per 100,000 inhabitants graduate, and it is home to numerous research and development centers in a variety of industries. All of this makes it a very attractive area for manufacturing Mexico, especially for companies in North American looking to take advantage of the new USMCA and the IMMEX program for international companies in Mexico


By Juan Iván Álvarez | Cd. Juárez Regional Director | American Industries Group®
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