JOSÉ ZOZAYA

Mexico 2021 | INDUSTRY & AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

AMIA seeks to transform into a true representative of the automotive industry and reflect its growing importance to Mexico's economy.

José Zozaya
BIOGRAPHY

José Zozaya has been Executive President of AMIA since August 2020. He previously served as president, general manager, and executive representative of Kansas City Southern de México from 2006-2020. Before this, he was the legal and governmental relations director of ExxonMobil México, a position he held for nine years. He has a honoris causa degree from the Mexican Academy of International Law and a law degree from Iberoamerican University. He completed advanced studies in corporate law and economic competition at ITAM, attended the executive program of international management at Thunderbird University in Arizona, the management program for lawyers at Yale, and the executive course for board members of administration at the Harvard Business School. He is President of the Mexican Railway Association for 2020-2021, vice president of Concamin since 2018, and a member of the board of Afore Siglo XXI, Ferrovalle, and the Business Summit. In 2016, he was appointed president of the binational board of directors of the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

In what ways is the Mexican automotive industry the most interesting sector at the moment?

It is a growing industry. We did not have a great year in 2020, though under the circumstances it was not that bad, as the Mexican auto industry exports almost 89% of what it produces to North and South America, Asia, and Europe. It also brings in a large amount of foreign exchange into Mexico in terms of trade balance surplus and is a large provider of well-paid jobs. Through the auto industry, one can get in touch with almost all other industries.

Considering the relevance of the relationship between Mexico and the US for the automotive industry, what is your outlook for the new administration in the US and its impact on the sector?

There may be more impetus on certain technologies, like green technologies. I expect the US to promote more clean technologies, an issue that is already well developed in the auto industry. We produce hybrid and electric cars in Mexico, and there could be growth in that area. We also expect the US to promote clean fuels. That is also important because new technology vehicles with combustion engines require clean fuels to mitigate environmental pollution and decrease greenhouse emissions. The other area that is important is the labor side of the industry. The USMCA Agreement included labor matters that demand certain conditions, and I am sure the Biden administration will pay special attention to Mexico's compliance with those commitments.

What is the sector planning to boost sales and demand, and what strategies are you using to ensure better outcomes for 2021?

Auto production was halted in Mexico for two months in 2020. Then, the industry was deemed an essential activity, and we were allowed to continue manufacturing. Generally speaking, vehicle exports were down 20% in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2021, we expect an increase in production of around 9 to 12%. We see a positive trend in the American economy, and that will help exports. We also hope that by working with the authorities, we can increase domestic sales of new cars in the local Mexican market. It is important; we need a quicker recovery of the Mexican economy that will also be reflected in new car sales.

Will the industry also focus on becoming more digital in the coming year?

Due to the pandemic in 2020, more vehicle sales were made digitally. Plus, systems in cars are more digital now, and they will continue to develop along that same trend. We expect the auto industry to have more modern technology digitally, and we are also pushing for incentives for electric cars. That is the most modern technology that the auto industry is now improving and pushing forward.

What projects is AMIA developing in 2021 to better position the automotive industry?

First, I am proposing a change to part of AMIA's organization infrastructure. If our members approve this, we will make some changes internally to better position AMIA not only with the media and government, but also with our own members. This will give us an organization that better represents and reflects the size and importance of the auto industry. That is something we need to do as an association and is part of my mandate. I am working on making these changes in AMIA to ensure the organization becomes the true representative of the automotive industry and reflects its importance to Mexico. There are a variety of proposed changes such as revamping our infrastructure, how we communicate with the government and the media, and how we coordinate and deal with other chambers and associations.