Mexico Car Exports Drop 11% as Brazil, Argentina Limit Shipments

Mexico’s auto exports dropped 11 percent in February as export quotas adopted last year by Brazil and Argentina caused shipments to the South American nations to plunge.

Light-vehicle exports to Brazil tumbled 72 percent last month, while exports to Argentina fell 37 percent, the Mexican Automobile Industry Association said today. Shipments to Latin America, the Mexican auto industry’s second-largest market after the U.S., declined 50 percent.

Mexico agreed about a year ago to cap auto exports to Brazil under a three-year quota system after the South American nation’s auto trade deficit with Mexico tripled to $1.55 billion in 2011, according to Brazilian government data. Argentina concluded a similar deal in December after suspending an auto trade deal with Mexico in June.

“We exported like never before, prior to the restrictions taking effect,” Eduardo Solis, president of the Mexican auto industry trade group, said at an event in Mexico City. “We’ll see an important effect because of this in the next few months.”

Auto exports to the U.S. slid 5.3 percent last month, while shipments to Canada climbed 32 percent. Exports to the U.S. rose 11 percent in the first two months of the year due to a jump in January. Additional gains are likely in the coming months, Solis said.

Sales of cars and light trucks in the U.S., which accounted for 67 percent of Mexican auto exports in February, increased to a 15.4 million annualized rate in February from 14.5 million a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Mexico’s auto output climbed 1.6 percent to 246,197 cars and light trucks in February. The Mexican industry has built more vehicles than a year earlier every month since April 2011, bolstered by investments of foreign automakers such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co.

Domestic auto sales advanced 7.3 percent to 80,193 vehicles, according to the Mexican Auto Dealers Association.