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Dept of Defense needs Mexico to reopen its factories. What if they say “no”?

Key components of Black Hawk helicopters are produced in Mexico (PHOTO: Lockheed Martin)

PortandTerminal.com, April 21, 2020

The American Government hasn’t been making many friends in Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic. Now it appears as if the Department of Defense needs a favor from Mexico.

WASHINGTON – Many U.S. defense firms, particularly aircraft manufacturers, rely on Mexican suppliers, many of whom have closed or slowed operations during the pandemic. That’s according to an article published on Monday by Defense One.

A surprising number of America’s defense manufacturers rely on parts made south of the border.

Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One

The Pentagon’s supply-chain dependence on Mexico has grown over the past decade as defense firms large and small outsourced production.

“U.S. and foreign aerospace component suppliers have been increasingly locating production facilities in Mexico,” the United States International Trade Commission said in a 2013 report.

The report signaled out Lockheed Martin, Textron, General Dynamics, General Electric, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins (now Raytheon Technologies), as operating subsidiaries in Mexico.

Lockheed uses electrical wiring in its Black Hawk and S-92 helicopters and F-16 fighter jets made by French firm Safran in Chihuahua, Mexico. Safran touts itself as Mexico’s largest aerospace employer, with about 13,000 employees.

Is American security essential to Mexico?

Mexico is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Mexico had recorded close to 8,800 cases and 712 deaths from COVID-19.

The government expects the peak of infections to hit between May 8 and 10 – about three weeks from. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

To limit the spread of the virus, authorities have ordered a loosely defined lockdown closing all but essential services, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, through April 30.

Is supplying materials to American defense firms essential to Mexico?

“We are seeing differing regulations and guidance around what businesses may operate and under what conditions,” Todd Blecher, a Boeing spokesman, said in an emailed statement to Defense One.

“Of most immediate concern is lack of a clear designation of aerospace as essential business,”

Todd Blecher, Boeing spokesman

“Of most immediate concern is lack of a clear designation of aerospace as essential business,” he said. “As a result, lower-tier suppliers based in Mexico are suspending operations, and these suspensions have direct impact on first-tier supplier performance for major defense primes.

SUPPLY LINES: Trump’s America Inc. Reboot Needs to Sync With Canada, Mexico

Boeing supports any effort by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico governments to harmonize these rules to ensure that these essential businesses and supply chains around the world can remain open.”

Ventilators destined for America were not “essential”

Earlier this month, the northern Mexico border state of Baja California closed a factory on Friday run by the American health care company Smiths Medical for refusing to sell ventilators to Mexican hospitals.

READ: Mexico closes U.S.-owned factory for refusing to sell ventilators to Mexican hospitals

The local governor of the province wanted Smiths Medical to sell his province badly needed ventilators but was refused. He then ordered the factory shut arguing that the factory was not producing goods that were essential to Mexico and therefore, under the rules of the lockdown were required to close down.

So, for now, it’s an open question. Are American defense company needs essential to Mexico?

The question is being asked on the same day that President Trump announced the temporary suspension of immigration into the United States – a move that will hurt many Mexicans (and American farmers) hard. American defense companies may not like the answer to their question – “are we essential?”

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