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Veracruz, See. 04 August of 2016.- Actualmente, solo 32 percent of domestic trade is carried by sea. Far from the international average 75 per cent. And if Mexico does not change the picture, you will lose the opportunities offered by the Transpacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (TPP, for its acronym in English) and advances in energy reform.

Double capacity

"Two reasons explain that performs Mexico trade through its ports is not greater today: our proximity to the United States, country with which commercial interaction is predominantly implemented through railways and roads, and a port system that needs to expand ", Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa recognizes, General Coordinator of Ports and Merchant Marine of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

“Un puerto no genera comercio, but it is able to prevent. We therefore attempted the most important link in the logistics platform of the country become ", dice. And launches a reckless promise: "We will build in six years the equivalent of the entire port infrastructure that Mexico generated in its previous history".

Put in figures, this would bring the installed capacity of national ports 280 million tons in 2012 to 535 million tons in 2018. This will require investments of the 70 000 million pesos, funded 80 percent by private initiative, according to official forecasts.

If the target is achieved, Mexico will leave the fourth place whose car exporter worldwide to take place in the year number two 2020. This is, de 3.6 million cars would be exported to other markets then, half would travel by sea. And the energy reform because it would entrench their results can move fluidly hydrocarbons requires the continued expansion of the country.


Nobody chooses where born. But experts from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER, for its acronym in English), based Cambridge, They explained a couple of years ago why economic development is always higher in the north than in the south.

If Japan, United States and Europe generate more wealth than Latin America, South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa is because they fulfill four conditions for this: have access to the sea, have abundant natural resources (as oil, coal and gas), possess favorable soil for agriculture and have cold or temperate climates.

Mexico, paradoxically, It has all that. Dispose of 11 500 km of coastline with access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, still enjoys generous oil reserves and a favorable territory for agriculture, and its climate is temperate in the center and north of the country. Nonetheless, its per capita income is meager 9500 Dollars, six times less than the US. The precarious infrastructure that exists in many areas of the country complicates economic growth. Teresa Ruiz recognizes that there is much to be done in this area, but he opted for talking about the progress notes.

Remember that, for decades, the four major economic ports in the country have been Veracruz, Altamira, Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas. All of them are located in the downtown area, a region that generates 51 percent of national wealth and in which inhabit one in two Mexicans.

"In this area the industrial clusters of the automotive are located, auto parts, aeronautical, electronics, food and drinks, software or textiles, among others. They are industries which offer 13 million jobs. A port level, Hence we draw a transverse axis running from Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas to Tuxpan and Veracruz ", says Teresa Ruiz.

"The idea is to interconnect all -more-, Manzanillo a railway tunnel which allow trains to travel constantly built and not only four times a day. And the Mexico-Tuxpan highway was also concluded to gain time on the links with Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo and Valley of Mexico. All this will benefit growth and trade ".

And to ensure the supply of hydrocarbons from the capital, "They are growing ports of Veracruz and Altamira", duck.


But Mexico is much more than the downtown area. Teresa Ruiz says the government is also active in the north and in the south. "We have the North Corridor that currently connects to Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Nayarit and Zacatecas, which they are the main maquiladoras and manufacturing centers in the country. In ports, in this region is the transverse axis which begins and ends in Mazatlan in Matamoros and Altamira ".

It is an area in which they operate 15 international airports and much of the terrestrial communications allow the border crossing with the United States. "We also have the East-West path in the northern area. And for three years there is a superhighway linking allowing Durango Mazatlan travel from one coast to the other in 11 hours, seven fewer than before ", says. After his speech moves south, a region that knows much more precarious.

"To detonate the potential of southern Mexico is needed to rehabilitate and modernize port infrastructure, highway, railway and airport. Working holistically. We must invest in the construction of a rail beltway in Coatzacoalcos and Oaxaca-Istmo sections and Acayucan-La Ventosa road needed. In my field, Puerto Chiapas has the potential to handle a flow of 22 million tons of goods (as raw materials, agricultural products and manufactured goods), but greater connectivity is required logistics in crossing the Suchiate ".

He is convinced that if all planned infrastructure actually materializes, Mexico can make the most of the benefits that the TPP, the free trade agreement signed in February last ambitious with countries that share access to the Pacific as Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, U.S, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia and Peru. All are willing to reduce tariffs charged to the other signatories to achieve a more fluid trade, cheap and competitive.

Teresa Ruiz is then directed into the Atlantic. "The energy reform forced us to review the network port of the Gulf of Mexico. We had to increase the already existing infrastructure and create ports. The Matamoros and Altamira existed, but they were virtually remade. Return more attractive Tampico, the idea is to turn it into something similar to Puerto Madero Buenos Aires; It is also the Tuxpan, only he managed hydrocarbons and was completely rebuilt. And also those of Veracruz (which grow), and Ciudad del Carmen and Seybaplaya ".

He concludes his tour of the port in southeast Mexico. "In Quintana Roo, the port of Progreso will be strategic. Semarnat has forbidden us to build any other port in this state by the large number of reefs that has. The port of Progreso (Yucatán) will be as the port of the neighboring state and Cancun is a city that has a high consumption of hydrocarbons, a demand that will continue to increase ".


Each sector submerges, without guilt, in the terminology of its own. The draft of a ship refers to the distance between the base of a boat -invisible because the human eye is zambullida- and the water surface. dredging, while, is the navigable depth is in a port.

Global trade requires increasingly better equipped ports in this area.

"In the years 80, vessels carrying an average of 3000 YOUR (As maritime unit is equivalent to a 23 tons of goods). Today, there are up 18 000 YOUR. For the new Panama Canal, for example, it will take boats up 12 000 o 13 000 YOUR, but by the characteristics of its coasts have no place those 18 000 YOUR. Mexico decided to Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas himself receive this type of sailings and are the only Latin American country that can do both the Atlantic and the Pacific ", says Teresa Ruiz.

The project sounds ambitious outlines the official start to finish.

Is it really feasible?, he is questioned. Where the funds will flow and how atajarán problems such as insecurity or trafficking of prohibited goods?

Teresa Ruiz keeps the speech: everything is possible.

Private capital flows to Mexican ports through titanic investors as the Danish Maersk Group which has as port operator APM Terminals- or Hutchison Port Holdings Limited (HPH), based in the British Virgin Islands, but with a presence in twenty countries. "But are not the only ones, we need investment, employment and competition will also come from medium and small companies ", says.

"All this is possible because we are creating synergies between logistics and connectivity ports, that will be linked with 52 new highways, nail 80 federal highways and three intercity trains, the new airport in Mexico City, etc. Although 2012 the maximum capacity of the Mexican ports was 280 millones de toneladas, this year as we increase it to 400 millones de toneladas. So the six-year goal it is possible ", insists.

Insecurity, grant that is a problem nationwide, but not "the" most important problem. "We have the support of many organizations dedicated to fighting organized crime. They are the police, the Navy, the Ministry of Defense, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk, the Attorney General of the Republic ... The ports are very controlled. And there are no major allegations of crime committed within the ports ", duck.

The expansion of the port system will require more oversight to prevent theft of goods or smuggling prohibited goods. "But the General Coordination of Ports and Merchant Marine is primarily a developer of infrastructure, not responsible for security. There are instances for it and do not intend to assume a role that is not for us ", it delimits.

On the effect it has had rising rates by shipping companies and the impact they will have spikes in electricity rates and gasoline that started in July, The official believes that not affect any port project.

"Ports are very long term projects. The current problems are just that. The rates paid us, for example, They settled in pesos, so they became cheaper for many companies operating in dollars. And the same goes for the price of oil and electricity, they handle their planning and expenses primarily in dollars, so those adjustments do not affect them ", save.

The journey described by Ruiz de Teresa sounds ambitious devilishly, but at the same time, peaceful. Any possible obstacle seems to have a solution. In two years it will be clear the result and will be time to refute or confirm that political promises are rarely vessels aground.

Mexico, at the helm of the CIP

MEXICO assumes the Presidency of the Executive Committee of the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP) during the period 2016-2018, It was announced at the X Regular Meeting of the CIP, held in Montevideo (Uruguay) the days 27, 28 and 29 of July. the meeting, They attended by representatives of the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela, inter alia, The main topic was the creation of partnerships between governments and the private sector for regional port development.

this forum, founded by the Organization of American States (OAS) in the decade of 1950, It has 34 member countries who meet regularly to put their issues on the table for joint solutions.

During the two years that Mexico will head the CIP, Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa to head, It will seek to improve public-private relationship in six specific areas: Logistics, innovation and competitiveness; sustainable port management and environmental protection; protection and port security; public politics, legislation and regulation; tourism, service ships and navigation control; and corporate social responsibility and port women.

In the next two years, Mexico will also head the Technical Advisory Group on Port Management, Sustainability and Environmental Protection, one of six specialized committees work has the CIP. During the working sessions, Panama spoke about the challenges facing the expansion of its channel. Colombia dealt with the investment plan linked plans in the Magdalena River Waterways. And Brazil, in its turn, It focused on development that requires its intermodal logistics.

By: Andrea Ornelas