Final Report: ACHEMAMERICA 2002


First ACHEMAMERICA in Mexico City a unanimous success * 212 exhibitors from 16 countries benefited from the event * Approx. 5,000 professionals attended – exhibitors and visitors supremely satisfied

From 18 to 20 March 2002 the first ACHEMAMERICA International Exhibition on Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection took place in the World Trade Center in Mexico City. 212 exhibitors from 16 countries presented equipment, technology and know-how for the chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries and related branches of the process industries on approximately 3,000 square metres of exhibition space.

At the Opening Ceremony of ACHEMAMERICA, attended by numerous high-ranking personalities, Dr. Luis Ernesto Derbez, Mexico’s Minister for the Economy, emphasized the tremendous significance of ACHEMAMERICA for his country. He rated the high participation of international exhibitors as a sign of confidence in Mexico as a business location and trusted that it would generate numerous new cooperations and strategic alliances for the expansion and modernisation of Mexico’s process industries.

On behalf of DECHEMA, the organizer, Prof. Gerhard Kreysa said that the choice of Mexico for the first ACHEMAMERICA was the right decision at the right time. Following ACHEMA in Frankfurt and ACHEMASIA in Beijing/China, ACHEMAMERICA had now successfully rounded off the “ACHEMA worldwide” concept. Thanks to the good co-operation with the Mexican sister society IMIQ (Instituto Mexicano de Ingenieros Químicos), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and other local and international partners it had got off to an excellent start.

During this three-day event approx. 5,000 professionals (4,984), including many chief executives and top-level decision-makers, visited the exhibition halls. Visitor acquisition is an important factor for a first event, and this had been achieved by the organisers, DECHEMA and IMIQ, strongly supported by the German-Mexican Chamber of Commerce (CAMEXA), the Mexican Chemical Association (ANIQ) and other partners.

The advance mailing of 14,000 catalogues to selected addresses in Mexico and the Latin-American region, cooperation with several international journals and comprehensive PR measures meant that professionals from the branch were familiar with ACHEMAMERICA as an important exhibition for plant and equipment for the chemical process industries. This is particularly important for exhibitors who have not yet acquired a reputation in Latin America. A significant performance figure for such events is the quantity per unit area (i.e. the number of visitors per exhibitor and day), and in this case, according to Kreysa, it was even comparable with that of the ACHEMA. The majority of exhibitors rated the performance of ACHEMAMERICA good or very good.

Marked international character – a positive signal for Mexico as a business


Of the 212 exhibitors the highest number came from the USA (73), Mexico (66) and Germany (40). Spain (7), France (6) and China were represented with joint stands, too. The exhibition profile of ACHEMAMERICA was tailored to the target groups of the pro-cess industries of Mexico and Latin America. They include chemical apparatus and plant construction, process technology, petrochemistry, maintenance and quality assurance, environmental protection / water treatment, the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, the food industry, agricultural chemistry, laboratory and analytical techniques, packaging and storage techniques, resource development and utilization. For instance, 142 exhibitors offered components and systems for chemical apparatus and plant construction, 64 presented technology for the pharmaceutical sector, 51 for water treatment and production of high purity water; the main focus of 51 exhibitors was the environmental sector and of a further 36 that of biotechnology.

66% of the exhibitors came from America, 31% from Europe and 3% from Asia. These relations agree well with the targets set by the Mexican government, which is aiming to increase its share of trade with the EU from currently below 10% to over 30%. Mexico intends to scale down its strong economic dependence on the USA, which currently accounts for approx. 88% of Mexico’s foreign trade. This first ACHEMAMERICA has given significant impetus to Mexico’s priority of creating well-balanced international trade relations.

Mexico has great faith in German and European technology. Besides the automobile industry and mechanical engineering, the chemical industry is also well represented. Among the exhibitors, there were numerous companies which already have production plants in the form of joint ventures or have agencies in Mexico and also some which operate as 100 percent foreign subsidiaries. The key to success in entering the market lies in establishing relations based on trust, long-term cooperations and on-the-spot representation with a reliable service network; this was concerned by several companies active in this region.

In his speech at the ACHEMAMERICA Opening Ceremony, the Mexican Minister for the Economy Derbez drew attention to the fact that Mexico offers considerable advantages for economic cooperation. With more than 30 free trade agreements Mexico is one of the most open economies in the world; it is currently the eighth in the league of exporting nations and takes third place among developing countries for direct foreign investment. Since January this year Mexico has taken precedence over Brazil as the largest eco-nomy in Latin America and, thanks to her geostrategic position, is an uncomplicated gateway to the North American market.

Process industry the keystone of Mexico’s economic growth

One of the new government’s main goals is to exploit the country’s oil resources to the full by extending the value-added chain at source, i.e. refining, etc. The upshot for the chemical process industry is that it has thus become a cornerstone of Mexico’s future development. The same holds true for biotechnology and for the food and pharma sectors. Strategic alliances and large investments in new technologies, plant and components are necessary, particularly for the sectors of petrochemistry, the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, not to mention the vitally necessary fields of energy supply and environmental protection.

Mexico ranks third worldwide as a recipient of direct foreign investment which rose from 14.19 thousand mio. US $ in 2000 to 23.17 thousand mio. in 2001. According to the Minister for the Economy Derbez, the chemical industry had made a vital contribution towards consolidating Mexico’s position in the global market. In this sector, from 1994 to September 2001 direct foreign investments amounted to over 6.35 thousand mio. US $. In the same period Mexico’s exports of chemical products recorded over 100% growth (111.5%). Mexico comes 23rd in the worldwide export of chemical products.

After Canada, Mexico is the second most important trade partner of the USA for chemical products. From 1994 to 2001 the volume of trade between Mexico and the USA increased from 12.2 to 27.3 thousand mio. US $. In 2001 chemical products to the value of 7.5 thousand mio. US $ were exported to the USA, imports were in the region of 19.8 thousand mio. US $. The great majority of exhibiting companies at ACHEMAMERICA came from countries that are already investing in the expansion of Mexico’s chemical industry.

The most important foreign investors in Mexico’s chemical industry are the USA with 57.7%; Germany with 6%; The Netherlands with 4.9%; Spain with 4.8%; France with 3.5%; Great Britain with 3.4%; Korea with 2.7%; Canada with 2.6% and Switzerland with 2.5%. Various other countries account for the remaining 11.9%.

Since the Free Trade Agreement was concluded between Mexico and the European Union in July 2000, the import/export situation has taken a considerable turn for the better. In 2001 the chemical sector exported goods worth 681 mio. US $ from Mexico to the EU. Import duties are to be gradually phased out. The EU has undertaken to abolish import duties completely by the year 2003, Mexico will have followed suit by 2008.

No lack of opportunities in the environmental sector

In the environmental sector opportunities for more intensive cooperation are also on the upturn. For instance, according to the Mexican Environmental Programme for 2001-2006 institutional and federal agencies will be given more responsibility and incentives will be awarded for investments in the environment. Furthermore, the protection of water, soil, air, forest reserves and biodiversity is to take the form of an integrated concept. The demands on the environmental sector in Mexico cannot be overstated. For 2001 alone the volume of trade in environmental technology in Mexico was approximately 3 thousand mio. US dollars, the bulk going to water and wastewater projects, waste disposal, environmentally friendly energy sources and preservation of resources. This is an area where small and medium-sized enterprises should come into their own.

Growing interest in biotechnology

Mexico’s government is focusing on accelerating the development of biotechnology. According to current figures of the bfai (Federal Agency for Foreign Trade), Mexico, Brazil and Cuba are the leading countries of Latin America in this field. The number of companies engaged in biotechnological research and production total over 100, approx. 40 of them in the area of agriculture (plant breeding, plant protection products, biotechnological production of substances, enzymes, etc.). In agricultural biotechno-logy the five top companies united to form “AgroBio Mexico” in February 2000 in order to undertake joint action with regard to information, public relations and policy.

Besides the agrarian-oriented companies, PEMEX, the state petroleum company of Mexico, is highly active in utilising bacterial technology to reduce pollution. A further important sector in this field is the pharma branch, in which many renowned, international conglomerates are involved.

In 1999 an intersectoral Commission for Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms (Cibiogem) was instituted to deal with the regulation and control of the biotech industry. Its members are drawn from the six ministries for the environment, agriculture, transport, the economy, trade and education. It is chaired by the respective departmental minister, changing every six years. Cibiogem settles all queries and matters pertaining to licences with regard to seeds, transport, storage, liberalisation and genetically modified organisms. Marketing authorisation, however, remains in the competence of the Minister for Health. A “Comite de Biosecuridad”, composed of 13 scientists, acts as the consulting body.

For this spring the Ministry for the Environment (Semarnat) announced the formation of a first national biotechnology fund to be run in coordination with the National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt). The fund will be endowed with a starting capital of 120 mio. Mexican pesos (approx. 13.6 mio. EURO) and will promote scientific research.

The Congress – the scene of an international exchange of ideas and experience

Parallel to the exhibition a three-day “International Congress on the Process Industries” took place, jointly organized by AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) with IMIQ (Instituto Mexicano de Ingenieros Químicos) and DECHEMA (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Germany). Among the focal topics of the congress were the latest developments in novel reactors, separation techniques, catalysis, multi-purpose batch processing, particle technology, bioprocess engineering, environmental technology, energy management, logistics and e-commerce.

The plenary lecturers were held to enthusiastic audiences by high-ranking personalities, such as Juan A. Barges Mestre (Deputy Minister for Energy of Mexico), Raúl Arriaga (Under-Secretary for Environmental Policies), Michael Heinz (CEO of BASF Mexico), Stanley A. Gembicki (Vice-President of R&D, UOP LCC).

The incalculable value of ACHEMAMERICA for Mexico was underscored by the lengthy visit of Raúl Muñoz Leos, president of the Mexican petroleum company PEMEX, on the final day of the exhibition. Here, too, numerous discussions revolved around financing and future privatisation in Mexico’s process industry and energy sector as foreign companies are demanding planning security for their commitments in Mexico.

Cooperation contract between DECHEMA and IMIQ

On the second day of ACHEMAMERICA, in a small ceremony DECHEMA and its Mexican sister society IMIQ with its current president Ing. Alejandro Villalobos signed a contract to consolidate the cooperation between the two organisations. Not only is ACHEMAMERICA to act as a link with Mexico, but the exchange of ideas and expe-rience in the field of science and technology is to be continually extended to include other fields and further events. These will cover such topics as environmental protection, biotechnology and new technologies for the process industry.

The second ACHEMAMERICA is scheduled to take place from 12-15 April 2005.

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