AchemAmerica Visits Mexico

The World Trade Center in Mexico City was the site of the AchemAmerica 2005 exhibition and conferences April 12-15, the second time that the event has been hosted by Mexico.

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AchemAmerica is generally regarded as the most important international exhibition of equipment for the chemical and process industries in the sector. It is organized by DECHEMA (Society of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, www.dechema.de), a German-based organization whose mission is to promote the development of chemical technologies and processes, and to reshape the knowledge obtained by research and development into practical applications.

With an area of over 21,000 square feet and 150 participating companies from 20 countries, the event provided an opportunity for visitors to learn first hand about emerging technologies in a diversity of industries: chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and the general process industry. Paralleling the exhibition, more than 70 conferences took place in the areas of wastewater management and new processes for refining, synthetic fuels and petrochemicals. Fifty-one percent of the participants hailed from North America while 43 percent were from Europe.

Technology needed

Opening the session was Alfred Oberholz, chairman of the board of DECHEMA and Fernando Canales Clariond, secretary of economy for Mexico. Oberholz emphasized that the exposition offered a wide range of possibilities for both developing new contacts and broadening existing business relationships. He added that exhibitors were visiting Mexico with the objective of strengthening innovation through cooperation. Canales stated, “For Mexico to remain competitive on a global scale, marketed products must have higher tech content. To achieve it, investments and technology transfer are mandatory.”

Jose Luis Uriegas, president of the (Mexican) National Association for the Chemical Industry (ANIQ, www.aniq.org.mx), stated, “Mexico has an enormous potential that is greatly underutilized. The energy sector reforms that are still waiting approval have contributed to a 20 percent loss in the production of chemicals during the last ten years. To avoid falling further behind, we require foreign investments.” ANIQ expects that chemical companies will invest $1 billion this year, based on concrete investment plans of its affiliates. Such an investment be represent a 20 percent increase over 2004 figures.

Notwithstanding the adverse scenario for some foreign investment in strategic areas of the Mexican economy, 2003 was a year in which Mexico attracted more direct foreign investment than the rest of the Latin American countries, with an investment of $10.7 billion. On the global scene, Mexico reached third place among the developing countries.

Based of estimates by economic experts in the Mexican government, Mexico landed $142.5 billion in foreign investments during the period from 1994 through 2003. Industrial growth is expected to be 4 percent for 2005, with the highest increase in chemicals, petrochemicals and rubber.

PEMEX (www.pemex.com), the giant state-owned oil company, plans sizeable investments, mainly in the petrochemicals and refining areas. Taken alone, projected investments in the petrochemical complex project named “El Fenix” lie in the neighborhood of $2 billion. In addition, PEMEX anticipates tapping large crude oil reserves recently located in the Gulf of Mexico that lie at depths that vary from 6,560 to 32,800 feet. This represents a challenge for PEMEX because up to now, oil extraction has mainly taken place at much shallower depths.

Modesto Vazquez, gainmvc@mexis.com, is executive editor for “InTech Mexico Automatizacion” and a member of the Editorial Board for “Manufactura” magazine, the largest industrial magazine in Mexico.

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