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May 14 2018

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May 14 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 49 www.joc.com Mexico Trade and Logistics Cover Story Special Report Mexican coastal shi LADEN CONTAINER VOLUME through Mexican ports increased 12 percent year over year in 2017, as more shippers routed goods through the Gulf Coast and Pacific traffic slipped, paralleling the acceleration of the eastward shift of US imports after the 2016 opening of the expanded Panama Canal. Economists say the eastward drift in Mexico's volume is tied to the ex- panded Panama Canal enabling ships of up to 14,000 TEU to traverse the waterway, but also to the improved economic situation in Europe. The lat- ter has boosted exports from Mexico's thriving automobile parts industry near the Gulf Coast. Mexico handled 4.6 million loaded TEU in 2017, compared with 4.1 million in 2016, according to figures from the Department of Communications and Transporta- tion, which oversees Mexico's port system. About 60 percent of the 2017 volume consisted of imports, which grew 10.5 percent year over year; exports increased 14 percent. The Gulf Coast's share of the nation's loaded cargo rose from 32.9 percent in 2016 to 34.5 percent in 2017. At the same time, the Pacific Coast's share fell from 67.1 percent of the Mexican loaded cargo market in 2016 to 65.5 percent in 2017. The marine cargo growth came as the Mexican economy struggled and the country renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, whose marine cargo volumes increased significantly less than that of Mexico. US loaded TEU volume grew 4.2 percent in 2017, according to figures from PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Com- merce within IHS Markit; Canada's increased 8.5 percent, according to Container Trade Statistics. The Mexican government has pledged a $5 billion upgrade to the nation's ports, initially saying it would be done with public money, but subsequently saying a large chunk would come from the private sector. Among the projects under way are a planned expansion of Expanded canal locks, auto industry entice shippers to look to the Gulf By Hugh R. Morley

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