By Alan M. Field / JOC
As Mexico’s manufacturing output has increased steadily over the last decade, so has the throughput of its major ports along the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean.
In 2014, Mexico handled more than 5.7 million 20-foot-equivalent container units a year, behind only Brazil and Panama in Latin America, and 10 times more than it handled in the first full year of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1995.
It’s no mystery why container volumes have been growing at such a spectacular rate: Mexico has made expansion of its automotive sector a cornerstone of its ambitious plans to transform its country into a global industrial powerhouse.
Over the past few years, Toyota, Daimler and other automakers have invested, or promised to invest, a combined $22.6 billion in plants for assembling vehicles, containerized automotive parts and electronics products.
To keep pace with that growth, Mexico’s federal government in April announced it is investing $5 billion in its network of 117 ports, including the construction of four new terminals in Veracruz, where container throughput is expected to approach 900,000 TEUs this year, up from just 540,000 TEUs in 2001.
The new investments reflect Mexico’s “conviction that a system of total distribution, with each logistical chain of a high level, both within the country and beyond our borders, is the best way of functioning,” said Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, coordinator of Mexico’s agency for ports and merchant marine.