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Amazon opens its biggest last-mile delivery center in Latin America

By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Amazon on Thursday inaugurated its largest last-mile delivery center in Latin America, a warehouse in Mexico's capital, as it seeks to offer faster deliveries in one of the region's most populous cities.

The e-commerce giant launched in Mexico in 2015 and has since invested 52 billion pesos ($3 billion) in an effort to attract more shoppers in Latin America's second-biggest economy and get an edge on competitors such as Argentina-based Mercado Libre and retail giant Walmart.

The new Mexico City site, measuring 30,000 square meters (more than 322,000 square feet), is the largest Latin America "delivery station" for Amazon, referring to warehouses that specialize in last-mile deliveries to consumers.

Amazon also operates larger warehouses known as "fulfillment centers," which can be over 92,900 sq meters (a million square feet).

Altogether Amazon operates about 40 warehouses throughout Mexico, employing more than 8,000 people directly and another 32,000 indirectly.

The expansion in Mexico City represents another piece of Amazon's strategy to operate distribution centers close to customers, said Diana Frances, Amazon's Mexico logistics head, in an event at the warehouse, where a large Mexican flag hung above dozens of rows of wire racks and a long conveyer belt.

Some 22 million people live in and around Mexico City, one of the biggest urban centers in Latin America.

The company did not respond to questions about the investment represented by the new facility, or its workforce size.

U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar, speaking at the event, commended Amazon for creating jobs, including in Mexico's poorer southern regions where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tried to ramp up development.

"There's no corner forgotten for Amazon ... It's wherever you look in Mexico," he said.

($1 = 17.0980 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Sandra Maler)