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经济学人:墨西哥边境工厂 兵临城下

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Business

商业报道
Mexico's maquiladoras
墨西哥边境工厂
Big maq attack
兵临城下
A 50-year-old export industry that provides millions of jobs has to reinvent itself quickly to stay competitive
维持了半个世纪的出口产业提供了数以万计的就业岗位,现今他们不得不迅速改造以保持足够的竞争力
ELECTRONICS are like drugs.
电子产品就像毒品一样利润巨大,
You can buy them for 1 and sell them for 40, says Jordi Muoz, a 27-year-old Mexican entrepreneur.
1美元买入的廉价货你可以40美元高价卖出。 27岁的墨西哥企业主祖狄穆诺兹如此说道。
People in Tijuana, where he makes small, insectlike drones for civilian use, would probably prefer he used a different metaphor: the city is trying to put its narcotic reputation behind it.
穆诺兹在提华纳创办了一家制造民用小型遥控飞机的工厂,在那里人们或许更喜欢与之不同的说辞:这座城市正试图甩掉这个蒙蔽性的名头。

But Mr Muoz feels free to say what he likes, because he has found the holy grail for exporters in northern Mexico. He has brought inventive flair, not just deft fingerwork, to the process of making things .

但是穆诺兹觉得自己想说什么就说什么,因为他为墨西哥北部的出口公司找到了圣杯:不仅仅是加工制造,而是如何制造。
Mr Muoz's drone-producing plant is a maquiladora, a factory that enjoys special tax breaks.
穆诺兹的遥控飞机厂是一家能够享受税额优惠的美墨联营工厂。
When Mexico set up the first maquiladoras half a century ago, they were sweatshops that simply bolted or stitched together imported parts, then exported the assembled product north across the border to the United States.
半世纪前,墨西哥首家美墨联营工厂还是血汗工厂,简单的组装、焊接零部件,再将那些装配产品出口美国。
America got cheap goods;Mexico got jobs and export revenues.
如此一来,美国廉价商品,墨西哥则增加了就业岗位、增加了出口收入。
Now, with competition growing from other low-cost locations, and with the government cutting some of their tax breaks, the maquiladoras are having to step up their efforts to become innovative.
现在,来自其他生产成本低廉国家的竞争日益加剧,政府逐渐减少税额优惠,墨西哥境内的美墨联营工厂不得不努力创新。
On October 18th the lower house of Mexico's Congress approved President Enrique Pea Nieto's proposal to sweep away a range of deductions and allowances that the maquiladoras enjoy.
10月18日,墨西哥国会众议院批准了总统裴纳尼托的提案,该提案取消了美墨联营工厂享受的一系列减税及补贴的权利。
In general, Mexicocollects less tax than other middle-income countries, and the government is striving to raise more revenues to improve its lamentable public services.
总之,比起其他中等收入国家,墨西哥税率更低,政府正试图增加财政收入,用于改善其落后的公共设施。
But the maquiladoras already face stiff competition from other countries offering juicy tax breaks to manufacturers: KPMG, an accounting firm, last year rated Mexico worse than five of its main rivals in terms of tax competitiveness.
但是,其他国家正制造商提供诱人的税额优惠,美墨联营工厂已经面临着激烈竞争。毕马威会计事务所称,去年墨西哥在税额优惠方面已经落后于其五个主要竞争对手。
Accountants at another firm, Deloitte, reckon the reforms, if passed by the upper house in the coming days, will raise the maquiladoras' effective income-tax rate from 17.5% to at least 30%.
会计事务所会计师认为,如果上院同意了该项提案,美墨联营工厂实际税率将从17.5%涨至至少30%。
Over the years the maquiladoras have already lost much basic work, such as stitching together fabrics, to cheaper places in Asia, like Bangladesh.
多年以来,联营工厂已经损失了不少基本工作,如服装生产已经转向了亚洲成本更低的国家。
But more recently, rising pay in Chinese factories has madeMexico look an attractive location once more.
但是,最近中国工资水平上升让墨西哥再度焕发生机。
According to the maquiladoras' industry association, their exports and foreign investment each grew by more than 50% between 2009 and 2012, to 196 billion and 7.4 billion respectively.
据联营工厂产业协会称,2009至2012年,墨西哥的出口及国外投资增长速度都超过了50%;其中,出口、国外投资分别增至1960亿美元、74亿美元。
Employment, having fallen sharply in the wake of the global financial crisis, rebounded by 25% to just over 2m, slightly above the average for 2007-08.
此前,在全球经融危机的大背景下,墨西哥的就业率大幅下滑;现在,就业率上升了25%,失业人口仅超过200万,这一数值仅比2007-2008年的平均水平略高。
Carmakers, in particular, have been investing heavily in Mexico in response to a recovery in sales across the border in theUnited States.
随着美国汽车销量的增长,汽车制造商在墨西哥大举投资。
The lure of cheaper shores
廉价诱惑
However, the tax rise risks prompting a fresh wave of departures to cheaper shores:
然而,税率的增长恐怕会引起制造商新一轮的转移浪潮:
even impoverishedHaitiis now touting itself as a hub for low-cost assembly.
即便是贫困的海地现在都已低成本制造吸引投资。
So the maquiladoras are having to up their game, moving into more sophisticated types of manufacturing and doing more product design.
因此,美墨联营工厂必须升级换代,转向制造更为精密的产品,设计更多的产品。
On the first score, there has been some progress: much of the stitching done inTijuanathese days is not of T-shirts but of finicky medical devices such as stents, made of fine pig tissue.
他们的首次尝试也取得了一定的成绩:如今的提华纳变革的不是服装加工,而是精密的医疗设备,比如由优质猪肉组织制作的支撑管。
The aim of Mr Muoz's company and others like it is to go a step further and to get involved in design and development.
像穆诺兹这样的工厂正进一步转型,逐步走向设计与开发。
If they succeed, they stand to gain some of the investment that American manufacturers are expected to make, as they shift work closer to home in reaction to rising costs in China.
如果能够成功,他们一定能够获得美国制造商正在考虑的投资项目,中国生产成本的增长使得那些制造商转移到离美国更近的国家。
Otherwise, those firms may instead be tempted to put their new plants in American states such as Nevadaand New Mexico.
另外,那些制造商或许会被美国国内某些州,如内华达、新墨西哥抢走。
These may not be able to match Mexican labour costs, but they have a better-educated workforce and are offering attractive tax rates and utility costs.
上述各州或许劳动力成本不如墨西哥低廉,但是那里有受过更好教育的劳动力,并提供足够诱人的税率及通用费用。
Aerospace and defence companies are among those thought likely to nearshore some of the manufacturing currently sent to China.
宇航及防务公司同样在考虑迁回当前在中国的制造工厂,
The maquiladora zone nearTijuanaalready has more than 50 firms in these industries, and it is here that the efforts to become more innovative are most visible.
提华纳附近地方的美墨联营工厂区有超过50个此类工厂,这是这种地方其创新的愿望最为强烈。
The Tijuanaplant of Zodiac Aerospace, a French company, makes aircraft interiors.
位于提华纳的法国佐迪亚克航宇公司专门生产航空器内部构件:
Downstairs, nimble-fingered women glue window-frames onto interior panels, and technicians operate machines that cut, stamp and weld metal parts.
车间里,动作麻利的女工们将窗框粘贴到航空器的内墙板上,技工则操纵机器切割、冲压、焊接金属部件;
But upstairs, young engineers are hunched over computers. One is designing from scratch a netting system for planes' overhead lockers, to stop luggage shifting during flights.
而在研究室,年轻的工程师都在电脑上埋头研发,一名工程师刚开始为航空器的头部储物柜设计网络系统以免行李在航行过程中飘移,
He has proudly attached a note saying Made inMexico on his screen.
他还骄傲的将一个写着墨西哥制造的标贴贴在自己的电脑上。
His boss, Raul Perez, says that product design is the next logical step for his firm—and for Mexican manufacturing in general. It hasn't been easy, he admits.
他的老板劳尔佩雷斯称下一步公司便会着眼于产品设计,佩雷斯坦承对于墨西哥制造业来说这并不容易。
Mexican universities and colleges tend to produce engineers expert in industrial process rather than products; they are good at making production lines more efficient, but not at inventing what goes on them.
墨西哥的高等院校更倾向于培养工业工序方面的工程师,而不是产品设计工程师,这样培养出来的学生更擅长让生产线更高效运作,而不会产品设计。
So Zodiac, which used to train recruits in-house, now sends its staff into universities to teach, and helps design courses that will produce engineers suitable for his industry.
因此,过去Zodiac企业内部培训新人,现今则派遣员工到大学里,指导、帮助学校进行课程设计以利于培养需要的工程师。
Even more than other industries, aerospace needs skilled and versatile workers.
即便是在其他企业,宇航公司同样需要技术出众、复合型员工。
Honeywell, one of the biggest aerospace firms in the region, employs 350 people in the design, engineering and testing of aircraft components inMexicali, the capital of Tijuana's home state of Baja California.
霍尼韦尔公司,提华纳地区最大的宇航公司之一,在墨西卡利招聘了飞机部件设计、工厂、测试工作人员共计350人。
But on a recent visit, its boss, David Cote, told reporters the talent pool lagged other potential aerospace hubs such as eastern Europe.
但是,霍尼韦尔公司老板告诉记者这批人中有来自其他航空准发达地区,诸如东欧。
He said Mexiconeeded more multi-skilled engineers able to work in mechanics, electronics and software.
他说,墨西哥需要有更多能够在机械、点子、软件方面都能胜任的复合型工程师
Another drawback for the maquiladoras is that they have not developed local suppliers:
联营工厂的另一短板是他们没有成熟的本地供应商:
less than 5% of their inputs are sourced within Mexico.
他们的投入仅有不到5%是来自墨西哥。
Aerospace is a particularly demanding field because safety standards require a high degree of certification for all the parts that go into an aircraft; and suppliers making components for defence equipment are subject to strict security requirements.
航空业的要求特别高,因为安全标准规定航空器上的每一个另见都有极高的安全保证,为防护设备制造部件的供应商同样严格执行安全标准。
To become a plausible aerospace cluster, and attract more investment from the world's top manufacturers, the maquiladoras around Tijuananeed to bolster the local supply chain, as well as produce more engineers capable of product design.
要想成为看上去可信的宇航基地,吸引更多来自世界顶级制造商的投资,提华纳周边的联营工厂需要支持本地的供应链,培养更多产品设计工程师。
For decades, low costs have made the maquiladoras one of the two main pillars ofMexico's exports, second only to oil.
过去的几十年里,生产成本低廉让联营工厂成为墨西哥仅次于石油的第二支柱。
From now on, creativity will be a better way of beating the competition than cost.
从现在起,比起低成本,创造力将会成为击败竞争对手的更有力武器。
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