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Mexico’s factory shutdowns strain U.S. production of critical supplies

In recent weeks, the Trump administration, a bipartisan group of 11 U.S. Senators, and U.S. business and industry groups — like the National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce – have all urged Mexico to sync its guidance with the U.S. on what is considered an essential business during the pandemic. Canada and the U.S. have deemed many manufacturers of parts and materials across a variety of industries such as aerospace, automotive, and defense essential. But Mexico is only allowing companies to operate if they are directly involved in critical industries such as health care, food production or energy — and not if they supply materials to companies involved in those industries. So Mexican firms along the supply chain that make everything from cleaning products to ventilator motors have shut down. There is growing concern that Mexico’s response could hinder the U.S.’s ability to produce food, medical, and other critical goods needed during the coronavirus crisis, dampen plans for reopening the U.S. economy, and cost U.S. companies billions of dollars.

Mexico, which registered its first cases of coronavirus more than a month after the United States, plans to begin reopening its economy in some areas by May 17 and across the country on June 1. The country has not yielded to U.S. pressure to reopen shuttered factories sooner, saying it is prioritizing the health of its citizens and following advice of Mexican health officials. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he plans to slowly go back to normal manufacturing productivity only after the U.S. economy starts to reopen.

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