MEXICO CITY – Mexico exported a record number of cars in 2017 despite uncertainty about the industry’s future in the event that the effort to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement breaks down, automakers said Monday.
More than 3.7 million cars rolled off assembly lines in 2017, up 8.9 percent from the previous year, the Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA) said in its annual report.
Exports grew 12.1 percent over 2017, to a record 3.1 million units.
“A figure we can feel very proud of,” AMIA head Eduardo Solis said.
Last year began badly for the Mexican auto sector with Ford’s announcement that it was canceling construction of a $1.6 billion plant in the central state of San Luis Potosi, a decision hailed by fierce NAFTA critic Donald Trump as he prepared to take office as president of the United States.
While Ford’s move turned out not to be the signal for a mass flight from Mexico by foreign automakers, General Motors decided to shift some production back to the US and Toyota said it would reduce the size of its investment in a new facility in the Aztec nation.
Yet the Mexican industry continued to produce and export.
More than 75 percent of Mexico’s auto exports went to the US.
Solis said that AMIA, like the US and Canadian auto industries, wants to see NAFTA’s original national-content and origin rules preserved in the updated pact.
“We hope that this negotiation brings us to a good outcome and ensures that the automotive sector continues to be successful in North America,” he said.
But while exports rose, Mexican domestic auto sales fell 4.6 percent last year to 1.53 million.