MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico auto production fell by 2% last year compared with 2020, the second annual decline in a row, as Mexico’s flagship industrial sector struggles to pull past pandemic shocks and a global semiconductor shortage, official data showed on Friday.

Auto output in 2021 declined to 2,979,276 vehicles from 3,040,178 the year before, according to figures published by Mexico’s national statistics agency (INEGI).

However, the industry did post a slight rise in exports, sending abroad 2,706,980 automobiles compared to 2,681,806 in 2020, an increase of almost one percent.

In December alone, production fell by 16.51% while exports plunged by 17.31%, marking the sixth straight month of declines.

A global semiconductor shortage in recent months has prompted automakers in Mexico and the rest of North America to implement rolling shutdowns, curtailing production.

In 2020, Mexico auto production tanked 20% compared with the prior year due to the pandemic’s hit on the economy. Mexico’s top autos association AMIA has estimated production won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2023 or in 2024.

(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean)