Our Opinion:Ripple effect could sting

September 05, 2001

It is surprising to hear the maquiladora industry all along the Mexican border is going through a rough time, with companies pulling up stakes and leaving as many as 200,000 people without jobs.

It is certainly sad to hear so many people have lost work. In Mexicali, the city that borders our area, 7,000 to 8,000 people have lost jobs this year because of maquiladora closures.

We hope this is a problem that rights itself, but Mexican authorities say it will continue as long as the United States is experiencing an economic downturn. The manufacturing industry in this country has seen a sharp slowdown in the past year and that is affecting Mexico, authorities say.

They also say the Mexican economy is too dependent upon the U.S. economy in export industries. While that has positives, it does come with negatives, as we are seeing now.


It is ironic to hear Mexican officials say that, because Imperial County leaders say our economy is at least partly dependent upon growth in Mexicali. If people are out of work they will have no money to shop on this side of the border, and that will hurt our economy.

Beyond that, local officials have always looked at the benefits the maquiladoras have on the Imperial Valley. If the industry is growing there is need for warehousing, trucking, other industrial services and housing development on this side of the border. If the maquiladoras are not healthy, things slow down over here, too.

Mexicali officials say there is hope in they are still seeing new investment and that could mean the expansion of some industries. Whether it will replace what has been lost is hard to say, but officials there seem confident in the city's ability to grow industrially.

This is more evidence of why economic diversification in the Imperial Valley is so critical. Just as we cannot depend solely on agriculture to support our economy, we cannot depend too greatly on maquiladoras.

Still, we do want to see the maquiladoras have a successful future both for Mexico and the development that could follow here.

Mexicali and the Imperial Valley have a blossoming relationship and the maquiladoras are part of that. We expect that relationship to continue to develop now and in years to come, despite a bit of a lull.

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