COFOCE Gto, Prevailing Experience to Strengthen the RegionBy Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 05/18/2020 - 10:47
Q: What are COFOCE’s expectations regarding USMCA and its impact on the state of Guanajuato?
A: We hope for a proactive response. We are working closely with CLAUGTO and other relevant figures to anticipate all scenarios. We are aware that rules of origin are one of the main challenges for the country but they are also a great opportunity if we are prepared. We have analyzed global chains, and have determined that these opportunities demand internal development of companies’ competitiveness and having the ability to quickly transform. Besides USMCA, the industry also faces the challenge of changing platforms, hybrid engines and full electrification. USMCA is still going to provide support and will keep boosting the regional content value and companies’ involvement in global supply chains. The response to this new deal will depend on each company, which is why we are working to give them the tools they will need.
Q: What is COFOCE doing to maintain competitiveness and prepare companies for the new trends?
A: We are trying to make companies conscious about the need to increase their competitiveness and bring them closer to global experts. We also participate in trade missions, with Spain being our latest destination. These missions are focused on demonstrating how the industry is transforming, its challenges and how to react to them. When facing new trends, training in specific topics also becomes necessary. We provide support to CLAUGTO and help to put all the tools in the hands of entrepreneurs so they can certify and approach new markets. One example is Foro de Proveeduría Automotriz (Automotive Supply Forum), where we bring together supply and demand to speed up change. We recognize we are part of an ecosystem, and our actions impact not only suppliers but OEMs.
Q: What is COFOCE’s vision for Guanajuato’s automotive industry in the near future?
A: Attracting more OEMs is no longer the objective. On the contrary, the goal is to reinforce the ecosystem in all other aspects. We should give all the companies that trusted in Guanajuato the tools to make them more competitive, including access to a strong supplier base to comply with new rules of origin and logistics infrastructure to improve their operations. With local companies, we must boost their competitiveness so they can have greater involvement in the global supply chain.
One of the greatest priorities for the state is to replace imports. Investment attraction is focused on the aerospace industry, aeronautics, information technologies and creative industries. Even though some of these are not related to the automotive industry, we know they use transversal technologies and that they come to enrich the state.
Q: How ready is Guanajuato to participate in R&D operations?
A: The state’s 2040 Development Plan is accelerating this process. We are about to inaugurate the International Competitiveness Center, which will focus on Big Data and analytics. From there we could move to R&D because today Guanajuato has an enviable technological ecosystem. However, we must be capable of managing this transformation and all other challenges the automotive sector is involved in.
Currently, a company that wants to jump into electrification requires significant R&D, which demands costly resources that are not within everyone's reach. This is the case of many local companies that require access to funding, which might not be from traditional sources. We are working on all of these matters: Big Data, analytics and access to funding sources as tools for increasing competitiveness. Today, the opportunity is as big as the challenge. Through an analysis of what is happening around the world, we make a diagnosis of what companies need to be proactive in all scenarios. If we had had an International Competitiveness Center a few years ago, we could have seen the changes in customer preferences and anticipate what was coming.
Q: How are you working with the state government to better support SMEs?
A: The governor entrusted us with leading the competitiveness side of the 2040 Development Plan, as well as the International Competitiveness Center. We see an opportunity for Fondos Guanajuato to transform and provide more affordable credit, not necessarily in the form of bank loans. In terms of innovation, we need to know where to direct our efforts so we can have an impact on the latest trends. Mexico has a deficit of about 150,000 digitally skilled professionals. To address this, we must work with the Ministry of Education, training institutes and the Ministry of the Interior to redirect our efforts and have more engineers specialized.
The Foreign Trade Promotion Coordination of the State of Guanajuato (COFOCE) has specialized in raising the international competitiveness of SMEs in Guanajuato for more than 25 years.