Volume 46 Number 180,
January - March 2015

Vergara, Delia Margarita (2012), Technology Policy in Mexico: The Plastics Industry, Institute of Economic Research-UNAM, Mexico.

This excellent and thorough text delves into one of the most important sectors of the Mexican economy: the plastics industry.

Specifically, Delia Vergara analyzes the plastic packaging sector which, although mature, is rather competitive, as it continues to introduce new technology innovations and is currently one of the most dynamics sectors in Mexico.

Beginning with the hypothesis that neoliberal policies generate greater economic disengagement through the fragmentation of productive chains, the author meticulously analyzes the National System for Technology Innovation and Policy in Mexico. She also analyzes and defines the competitive capacities of companies in the plastics industry, with a special focus on packaging, demonstrating that this industry suffers from strong technological dependence, in light of the lack of government support and the minimal relationship among actors in the innovation system.

A National Innovation System would be made of agents connected through an organized environment that brings together legislation, economic institutions and industrial, science and technology public policy, and which is reconstituted through learning processes. Both countries and companies have increased their competitive capacity through the generation and diffusion of technology innovations.

According to the author, the industrial and science and technology public policies implemented in our country as part of the neoliberal model have been inefficient and failed to achieve the economic growth and development necessary to raise competitiveness and national welfare. It is therefore time for a proper technology policy that meets the needs of the various economic sectors through technology innovations that make it possible to boost the productive competitiveness of companies in both the national and international markets.

A rich theoretical discussion, backed by a very updated bibliography including authors such as Freeman, List, Lundvall, Malerba, Molero and more, helps explain the relationships and levels of technology policy and the productive sector, laying out the competitive capacities of the plastics industry.

The author notes a clear disparity between production and technological capacities; the former refer to the equipment, features of the product, inputs and organizational systems, while the latter are focused on the essential resources to bring about technological change, such as knowledge, experience and institutional structures. The work offers a diagnosis of technological capacities, demonstrating that the plastics industry must enhance its performance to maintain its added value and competitiveness.

The statistical data used throughout the text are extremely valuable as they situate the degree of innovation and competitiveness of the industry studied in the national and international context.

In addition to the introduction, the book contains five chapters. The first is entitled, "Innovation and Technological Change: The Importance of Public Policy," and discusses two important and opposing theoretical visions that seek to explain how innovation works: the neoclassical and evolutionary approaches. It also studies the contributions of the concept of the National System for Technology Innovation and Policy.

In "The Technology Policy of Mexico," the second chapter of the book, the author explains the principal features, historical trajectory and evolution (path dependency) of technology policy in Mexico, highlighting the consequences and significance for the plastics industry. The study is divided into two major stages, the first from 1940 to 1980, when the State played a major role in the economic life of Mexico, and the second from 1980 to 2006, the neoliberal age. It also describes a series of studies on industrial policy by various authors and agencies.

In the third chapter, entitled "The Plastics Industry in Mexico: Technological Vigor in the Production of Plastics Packaging," she leads us on a tour through the evolution of the industry, mentioning the most pertinent economic indicators. The chapter begins with a broad overview of the petrochemical industry, which is vital in supplying raw materials, and continues with a full characterization of the plastics industry, concluding with an analysis of the plastic packaging sector.

"Technological Change in the Mexican Economy: The Case of the Plastics Industry," the fourth chapter, addresses the innovative behavior of Mexican industry and the technology environment of the plastics industry. The technology indicators used are: a) traditional science and technology: experimental research and development (R&D) and patents, b) competitiveness measured by the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index and c) innovation, with an analysis of the 2001 Innovation Survey and the 2006 Survey on Technology Research and Development in Mexico.

The fifth chapter, "Critical Elements of Technology Policy," discusses research results that demonstrate that the critical elements of the National Innovation System are: a) funding, b) engagement/connectivity and c) industrial technology dependency defined by technology suppliers. The author also offers her reflections and proposals for the plastics industry, especially the packaging sector, to overcome its limitations and achieve the competitiveness required; public policy interventions will be necessary for this to happen.

The book Technology Policy in Mexico: The Plastics Industry shines a light on the deficiencies of the technology policy implemented in Mexico and the technological capacities of the plastics industry, contributing valuable proposals to overcome these barriers.

Bernardo Ramírez
Institute of Economic Research – unam

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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