Around 70,000 people have lost their jobs in the country's assembly industry, which includes the textile industry, due to the slowing US economy.

For decades, the installation of assembly plants on the Mexican border has boosted the economic development of this part of the country. But now the economic slowdown in the US, the main market for textile products in Mexico, and the strength of the peso have put the industry in jeopardy.

After increases averaging 14 per cent annually over the last 15 years, the assembly industry may end the year with zeor growth and even at a loss.

Exports for the sector fell eight per cent during the first half of the year and it is forecast that sales will decrease from $79 billion to not more than $72.6 billion in 2001.

The American slow down has been responsible for the closure of at least five plants, the shutdown of 37 production lines and the loss of more than 70,000 jobs.