“The Mexican supply chain affects every plant we have,” Mr. Hurst said.
Home-appliance manufacturers, too, rely heavily on plants in Mexico, the second-largest producer of appliances imported to the U.S. behind China. Appliance companies including Whirlpool Corp. have said some of their suppliers in Mexico haven’t succeeded in securing permission to remain open.
“We’ve had some issues of stop and start with certain players,” Whirlpool’s Chief Executive Marc Bitzer said Friday. “They have not been completely resolved, but we remain confident they will be resolved.”
More than 300 U.S. chief executives signed a letter last month from the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asking that Mexico recognize the broader set of guidelines for essential manufacturing issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That list, which identifies 16 critical industries, has been widely adopted by state governments in the U.S.
The supply strains are adding to the uncertainty for manufacturers navigating one of the steepest drops in demand for their products in decades. U.S. factory orders posted a record drop in March, the Commerce Department said on Monday.
Mexican health officials have blamed export-focused manufacturers and their factories near the border with the U.S. for spreading the virus by not closing the plants quickly enough early in the pandemic. Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego, has been one of Mexico’s most infected areas.
In Ciudad Juárez, a manufacturing hub near El Paso, Texas, authorities said 13 workers at a plant for car-seat manufacturer Lear Corp. died of the virus. Lear said it suspended operations at its 42 plants in Mexico last month.
Javier Corral, the state governor of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juárez is located, said he has rejected requests from U.S. governors and business executives for his state to establish a separate schedule from the rest of the country for reopening automotive and aerospace plants.
“What we’re looking for from the federal government is some alignment, so that we can reopen at the same time.” Mr. Corral said. “We’re going to follow all of the recommended health measures.”