Cedric Post – Deputy Director in charge of International Development GIFAS – International affairs
What is GIFAS?
GIFAS (Groupement des Industries Françaises de l’Aéronautique et Spatiale) is the French Aerospace Industry Association. It was created in 1908 and has around 300 member companies covering a large spectrum of activities including manufacture of aircraft, helicopters, engines, equipment, missiles, launch vehicles, satellites and defense plus security electronics. GIFAS is the official voice of the French aeronautical and space defense industry and speaks for the French authorities. It is a major actor in European industry and plays an active role in the European Association (ASD).
How many French aerospace companies currently operate in Mexico?
The main French companies operating in Mexico are: DAHER, EUROCOPTER DE MEXICO, LABINAL DE MEXICO, MESSIER SERVICES AMERICAS, RADIALL, SAFRAN MEXICO and SNECMA AMERICA ENGINE SERVICES.
What are the main business reasons behind bringing French aerospace companies to Mexico?
French aerospace companies appreciate developing their supply chain in Mexico to not only reach the American market, but also to manufacture products for the rest of the world. Mexico is an attractive market for French industries which sponsor many Mexican training projects. For example, US$15 million were invested by SAFRAN in 2010. Indeed, SAFRAN has been the number one French investor during past years. It employs more than 3,000 employees and is the first employer in the Aerospace field in Mexico. There were 10 companies with over eight plants representing US$320 million in 2010. It also leads in the creation of industrial platforms in Queretaro and Chihuahua.
Of the French companies currently operating in Mexico, what are their main positive and negative issues?
Mexicans are seen by French companies as very dynamic and competitive. However, we have the feeling that the decisionmaking centers are not all well-coordinated. That is one of the main reasons why it is important for us to work with FEMIA and we are counting on this organization to be a powerful interlocutor for us in Mexico. In addition, it is unfortunate that in the Mexican aeronautical sector there exists the lack of a qualified workforce.
What does Mexico need to do to attract more French aerospace firms?
Since 2010 with the support of SAFRAN some 15 to 20 French SME’s have decided to come to Mexico in order to build new facilities. Mexico should continue to aggressively support such initiatives, as well as to educate a more qualified workforce in the aeronautical sector. On our side, IAS (the Institut Aéronautique et Spatial, the subsidiary of GIFAS in Toulouse) is organizing seminars in Mexico for supply chain training for Monterrey’s University (the UANL) in 2011.