October 18, 2007
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
ROSARITO BEACH – Sharp Electronics is cranking up its production of large-screen LCD televisions at its Rosarito Beach facility in response to growing demand in the United States.
The company has opened a $170 million factory with the capacity for eight assembly lines on the same grounds as Sharp's current factory, which began producing the bulkier, cathode-ray-tube televisions in 1997.
The new maquiladora factory, completed in July, represents an injection of faith in Mexican manufacturing despite competition from countries such as China and India that have been wooing global companies with tax incentives and cheaper wages.
The state of Baja California has about 900 maquiladoras, which are mostly foreign-owned plants that import materials and equipment duty-free to assemble finished products that are usually sold abroad.
“There is an excellent confidence in Mexico, in Baja California, based on something very important: the human element, the people who are here and who come here from all parts of Mexico,” Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy Walther said at a ceremony Monday that marked the opening of the Sharp factory.
Plant officials allowed guests to tour the factory, where workers dressed in white jumpers and plastic booties worked at the three assembly lines. About 2,300 employees work there, producing Aquos LCD TVs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Production is 200,000 units a month and will increase to 400,000 units a month in fiscal 2009 as the company adds additional lines and hires about 1,700 more employees.
Sharp executives estimate that demand for LCD TVs in the North American market – primarily the United States – will be 23 million units in 2007. That is expected to increase to 33.5 million by 2009 and 39 million in 2011, they said.
Labels: Struggles in the Maquilas