|LAREDO, October 11 - Officials from the Port of Mazatlán say they were impressed with what they saw on a visit to Laredo and are ready to sign an agreement to work together to boost trade.
Jorge Ivan Cárdenas Castillo, general director of the Port of Mazatlán, and Mauricio Ortiz-Medina, commercial area manager for the port, met with Laredo city leaders, including City Manager Carlos Villarreal, Assistant City Manager Jesus Olivares and Bridge Director Mario Maldonado to discuss future opportunities of shipping products from his port through the Port of Laredo.
Additionally, they met with U.S. and Mexican Customs officials, as well as took a tour of the international bridges.
“This is our first visit to Laredo. We have no trade with the city right now but the purpose of the visit is to build a strategic alliance to take containers from Asia to the United States and on to the East Coast,” Cárdenas told the Guardian.
Cárdenas said that right now hardly any of the container cargo that comes into Mazatlán from Asia goes into the United States. Not even through Nogales, Arizona. Much of the trade from Asia goes into Long Beach, California, he said. All that is expected to change, however, when the new Corredor Economico del Norte is complete. The new superhighway will connect Mazatlán to Matamoros.
“The new highway will allow us to bring shipments into the United States through Laredo. Right now it is not an easy thing,” Cárdenas said. “To be an honest with you, we did not have Laredo listed as a potential partner. Laredo was not on our radar. We knew about Brownsville and we knew about Pharr because we have had visits from their city officials. We want an agreement with Brownsville to build this cargo highway. Now we are beginning a new arrangement. We expect to sign something with Laredo in two or three months.”
Cárdenas said the Port of Mazatlán currently moves 300,000 tons and 25,000 containers a year. He said that will increase when the new superhighway is open because container shipments that currently go through Long Beach could be enticed to go through Mazatlán.
“Long Beach and Los Angeles are going to get congested because of the natural growth. We are a perfect choice, a perfect option to catch some of the overflow,” Cárdenas said.
In anticipation of that growth, the Port of Mazatlán has hired a private firm, the general manager explained.
“We want to create a good environment to attract to Mexico, to Mazatlan, all the cargos we can from Asia. Asia and the Pacific Basin have been growing at ten percent, more or less, for the last decade, so it is obvious it is a big market, primed for more exports and imports. Also, Mexico has signed an international trade treaty with the South American countries, Chile, Peru and Colombia, and so everything is leading to a stronger traffic of cargo and specifically containers to the Pacific coast of our country,” Cárdenas said.
“So, we have a private company that won the bid for the port in 2011. It started operations in 2012. They have been operating for one year. The big investment the port needs right now is in private hands, in our hands. Our company is in charge of making sure we have all the money the port needs to grow, to be prepared for the short term demand.”
In the longer term, the answer is a much bigger port, Cárdenas said. “We are probably able to handle four, or five, or six times more cargo than we do now. So, this investment is not required immediately. In the future when the demand for the port grows more it is obvious that we will have to build a new facility but for the next five years we do not think that is necessary.”
Cárdenas concluded his interview with the Guardian by making this observation: “The government of Mexico has made a pledge to become a logistics platform for any cargo, obviously looking at the southern United States market as a principal client or provider. In that sense your region of South Texas provides a great opportunity for us and you as a region also have a great opportunity. You have an opportunity to be nearer to the Asia market through the new gateway, the new super highway.”