Multinacionales Extranjeras en América Latina y su Impacto en las Empresas Domésticas: El Caso del Sector Automotriz Mexicano

Javier Turienzo, Jesús F. Lampón, José A. Fraiz-Brea


Bajo el enfoque de la cadena de valor global (GVC), el artículo analiza la influencia de las Multinacionales Extranjeras (MNEs) en la evolución de las empresas doméstica para su integración como proveedores en la GVC. Mediante entrevistas a responsables de MNEs implantadas en México, se analiza los proveedores respecto al upgrading y, novedosamente, tipología de suministro, grado de dependencia con las multinacionales extranjeras y participación en la GVC. Pese a la conversión en proveedores en estratégicos MNEs, son dependientes debido a la limitación en el posicionamiento en la GVC por la escasa orientación a la innovación e la internacionalización de sus actividades.


In recent decades, globalization has been accentuated by the opening of international trade and the development of free trade agreements or tariff reductions. The manufacturing industry, and especially the automotive industry, has been a promoter of the globalization process through the fragmentation of production processes. As a consequence of this trend, industrial activity has been relocated creating a dispersion of productive units. In addition, this process was complemented by the outsourcing of manufacturing processes to automotive component companies. As a result of this process, multinational companies (MNEs) have been established in local regions and, especially, in emerging economies. Latin American countries among which Mexico stands out has been a clear example of this process. The policies adopted by Mexico and, consequently, the mechanisms adopted have favored the development of the conditions for the establishment of MNEs in its geography. The automotive sector accelerated its implementation, due to the incentives associated with the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a result of the increase and interest of MNEs in the automotive sector to establish production plants in Mexico, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows increased. According to data reported by the Secretariat of Economy of the Government of Mexico, FDI linked to the automotive sector exceeded 10% of that received. As a result of this continuous investment by capital linked to the MNE, the automotive manufacturing sector in Mexico reached 3.3% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as detail the Mexican association Industria Nacional de Autopartes. With a turnover of more than 65.6 billion euros, it became the fifth largest producer country in the world. The investment made by Spanish multinationals has placed Spain, after the United States, as the second investor country in Mexico with 9% of the total foreign investment. According to the data indicated by the Spanish institute of foreign trade (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior - ICEX), 40 multinationals linked to the manufacture of automotive components are currently established in Mexico. According to the linked reports, these companies are strongly established and develop very diverse activities. Spanish companies have become a pillar of the automotive industry with more than 20,000 employees distributed in 65 plants, destined to the manufacture of components, manufacture of production equipment or machinery for the sector. Under the global value chain (GVC) approach, recent research directly links the impact of FDI with the integration of foreign multinationals into regional value chains. This ratio increases in those emerging countries that base their economic growth on industrialization. The GVC approach has been used to analyze governance, the typology of linkages and the distribution of power among the actors of the value chain present in the automotive sector. The governance applied in the automotive sector is characterized by the control exercised by MNEs over domestic suppliers. This coordination in the GVC results in very defined and asymmetrical power relations. Consequently, the power is concentrated in few companies, usually the MNEs, hinders the development of the free configuration of the sector. However, the constant evolution and dynamism of that characterized the automotive sector requires a continuous review and update of the GVC status. The paper analyses the evolution of domestic suppliers resulting from the integration of foreign multinationals (MNEs) in the regional automotive value chain. In addition, production trend near the final markets has increased the interest of companies to settle in Mexico, increasing the establishment in its geography and the participation and power of domestic companies in the GVC. The analysis of the evolution of domestic suppliers includes, in addition to the traditional product, process and functional upgrading, original elements such as the type of supply, the dependence on MNEs and participation in the global value chain. This research contributes to the revision and updating of the GVC approach as a theoretical framework for value chain analysis today. Para the development of the research and analysis of the configuration of the GVC was counted with the 40 Spanish MNEs. After an introduction of the objectives of the research, they were asked to participate in very high-level managers through on-site interviews. Due to the complexity and limited availability due to the occupations of these positions, the study was carried out with 8 Spanish multinationals. These companies represent 35% of employment and 40% of the turnover of Spanish multinationals established in Mexico. The process of collaboration and information gathering took place between May 2018 and January 2020. With the intention of focusing the research, the criterion was established to select those domestic suppliers that concentrated at least 5% of the purchases of the MNEs. The interviews focused on 17 MNE-provider interactions. Subsequently, the recorded interviews were transcribed and complemented with the perceptions and notes made by the researcher. In order to maximize the result, a first analysis of the qualitative data was carried out. This analysis detailed the evolution of each supplier. Subsequently, a second quantitative analysis was prepared. Through the comparison of different variables associated with the sample of the selected suppliers following the criterion of purchase concentration indicated above. As a result of the research process carried out, it was found that most of the suppliers analyzed are currently strategic for these foreign MNEs due to the high quality of their supply products and service. Although the improved and more sophisticated developed products and effort to achieve efficient processes with better production technologies and greater added value that have characterized the evolution of these suppliers, they have a greater dependency on them, working in many cases exclusively for them. An in-depth analysis of the causes of this dependence has shown that the lack of business and state orientation towards innovation hinders the independence of these MNEs. In addition, the internationalization of their production activities has been practically missing in this evolution, limiting the positioning in the first levels of the value chain and the global presence of these suppliers. As a result, there is a high risk of stagnation of domestic operators, which could slow down the evolution of the industry in the region and increase its power within the GVC.

© Revista de estudios regionales 2014 Universidades Públicas de Andalucía