Holland & Knight has launched a Mexican construction practice to advise companies that want to nearshore production and supply chains closer to the U.S.
The practice will be led by Claudio Rodríguez, an energy and infrastructure partner who headed the Mexico City office of Thompson & Knight before that firm merged with Holland & Knight in 2021. Rodríguez has extensive experience advising clients on infrastructure matters in Mexico, having previously served as a general counsel and legal manager at global European companies that operate in Latin America.
The desirability of manufacturing in Mexico has increased during the pandemic amid shipping and production delays in China, where outbreaks of COVID-19 have stymied output.
“We’ve seen a wave of interest from international manufacturers who want to establish operations here,” Rodríguez said in a statement.
Mexico City-based partners Carlos Véjar (trade/disputes), Alejandro Landa (finance), Luis Rubio (M&A), Adrián Gay Lasa (real estate), Mario Barrera (tax) and Rodolfo Rueda (ESG) will pitch in as needed with the construction practice, in coordination with nearly 50 Holland & Knight lawyers in the U.S. who regularly work on construction matters.
The Holland & Knight construction team in Mexico aims to help builders, construction managers, government contractors, project owners, investors and other industrial players navigate complexities and red tape.
“It’s important for them to understand that most significant building projects in Mexico are driven by a bidding process managed by the federal and state governments,” said Rodríguez. “There are all sorts of compliance issues that need to be dealt with, which is why experience and relationships are crucial.”
In addition to providing legal counsel, the Holland & Knight team said it will serve as business liaisons to assist with project finance and contracts, and flag potential disputes.
Rodríguez has extensive experience advising clients on infrastructure matters in Mexico, having previously served as a general counsel and legal manager at global European companies that operate in Latin America.
Stephen Shapiro, leader of Holland & Knight’s construction industry practice group, said: “Claudio’s experience with private and public construction projects in Mexico and the various government requirements for each will ensure that our clients have a smooth experience and avoid exposure to litigation down the road.”
Data compiled by real estate firm CBRE shows there were over 7 million square feet of nearshoring projects built in Mexico in 2021—nearly double the square footage set aside in the previous year. Already in the first quarter of 2022, close to 4 million square feet were dedicated to nearshoring projects.
Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., well-established transportation links and duty-free status under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade pact are strong selling points for production south of the border.
In addition, the Inter-American Development Bank announced plans in July to provide up to $2.25 billion in financing related to nearshoring in Mexico over the next three years. The U.S. government is interested in moving production to Mexico as a response to tensions with China and the need to counter Chinese investment in Latin America. It also hopes that nearshoring would create jobs, which could reduce migration to the U.S.
In recent years, the Holland & Knight team in Mexico has advised international investors from countries such as Spain, Brazil, China and Germany on projects ranging from a wind farm in northern Mexico to toll roads and the reorganization of a robotics company.