Southern New Mexico industry weathers COVID-19 storm on strength of electronics market

Border Report

Santa Teresa industrial complex lost only a fraction of export trade with Mexico in 2020

SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (Border Report) – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico had $3.7 billion in manufacturing exports in 2020, with most of those goods and materials going to Mexico.

The port of Santa Teresa handled the lion’s share of those exports on the strength of components for electronic devices that people never stopped using during coronavirus-related lockdowns in their community.

“Our trade with Mexico was only down 8% during the pandemic; 2020 exports were the second-highest we’ve had on record, only behind 2019,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association.

Manufacturers of electronic components and cardboard boxes in the industrial parks at Santa Teresa did not let up their production in 2020.

“We have metal fabrication, we have plastic injection, we have copper wiring. It’s all the stuff that goes into consumer electronics like computers, tablets, cell phones – the electronic devices that everyone staying home is using,” Pacheco said. “And we have cardboard packaging needed when people order something from Amazon.”

The state’s total exports fell 21% year-to-year in 2020, with exports to China – New Mexico’s second-largest export destination — falling 39%.

New Mexico’s export trade with Mexico fell only 8% in 2020 but still stayed near 2019’s record levels. (State of New Mexico)

Trade with Mexico was down only 8% compared to 2019 but rose 45% in relation to 2018 and was up 373% compared to 10 years ago.

Pacheco said there’s growing sentiment among U.S. manufacturers to “re-shore” production from Asia closer to home, as the COVID-19 pandemic bared how vulnerable remote operations become during an emergency.

A lot of the state’s exports to China are materials such as semiconductors and medical supplies, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.

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