Mexico is benefiting from the CPTPP accord and booming beverage business, but its auto industry is slowing down and it’s dealing with trucking delays at the U.S. border.
Mexico’s trade performance is expected to accelerate during the course of 2019, after a slower-than-expected start to the year, but the country is dealing with various challenges that could threaten this generally positive outlook, according to data provided in A.P. Møller – Maersk’s Mexico trade report released Tuesday.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) is expected to contribute to Mexico’s import and export volumes in 2019, and the country also is benefiting from its booming beverage industry.
However, cross-border delays at the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexico’s sluggish automotive industry and ongoing concerns over trade tensions between the U.S. and China potentially could offset trade gains.
The CPTPP is a free trade agreement that involves Mexico and 10 other countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The free trade deal entered force on Dec. 30 for Mexico as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, followed by Vietnam on Jan. 14. “The CPTPP will enter into force for Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Peru 60 days after they complete their respective ratification processes,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade explained.
In regard to Mexico benefiting from the CPTPP, Jaap de Mots, Maersk’s head of product management for Mexico, said in the trade report that Mexico “should start to see positive trade from Japan and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. The elimination of tariffs and ease of red tape will facilitate growth for a variety of commodities.”
Meanwhile, Mexico’s beverage industry is expected to see double-digit trade growth in 2019 as demand for the nation’s beer grows across Asia and Europe, as well as countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., the report said.
Additionally, imports into Mexico appear to be picking up pace, while Mexico also is benefiting from strong U.S. consumption.
“Weak industrial results in China in January and February contributed to lower growth for Mexican trade in the first quarter, but recent government stimulus measures in the world’s second-largest economy are now taking effect and volumes to Mexico are increasing again,” the trade report said. “This comes as Mexican retailers also refrained from stocking inventories in the first quarter after a strong finish to 2018.”
“First-quarter Mexican trade volumes were slower than we had initially anticipated, but we now see solid growth for the rest of the year,” Alexandra Loboda, managing director at Maersk for Mexico and Middle America, said in the trade report. “The Chinese economy is picking up pace again and while Mexican economic growth is forecast to grow slower than initially expected in 2019, it is also being underpinned by sturdy U.S. consumption.”
However, Loboda warned that “trade tensions between China and the U.S. remain a concern.”
Mexico’s trade activity also is being impacted by a local trucking capacity crunch, as well as trucking delays at the U.S.-Mexico border, which the trade report said is prompting exporters to increasingly use ocean liner shipping services as a form of transport to the U.S.
BlueWater Reporting’s database shows that one such loop that popped up earlier this year is World Direct Shipping’s Express Service. The loop strictly sails between Mexico and Florida, utilizing one, 957-TEU vessel to call the ports of Tampico and Tuxpan in Mexico and Port Manatee in Florida. Port Manatee said last month that the new loop has boosted its containerized cargo activity by more than doubling the amount of juice volumes coming into the port in specially fitted container units.
Patricia Perez Salazar, general manager for SeaLand in Mexico, said in a phone interview Tuesday the delays at the border are a result of the immigration movement. Going back a couple of months, she said trucking bottlenecks on the lanes in which the merchandise was being processed have since increased from 16 hours to 24 hours.
She said that delays are very severe in Laredo, the cross-border inspection point for most of the goods originating in the northeast manufacturing side of Mexico.
Truckers also are dealing with delays when crossing into Mexico as a result of the congestion at the ports of entry.
Adding fuel to the fire for Mexico’s trade activity, the country’s car industry is projected to see a year of low, single-digit growth, according to the trade report.
“We have seen really strong growth in the last two years, but we now see U.S. consumers, for example, are showing greater preference to heavier pickup trucks that are produced in the U.S.,” de Mots said in the trade report.
About 85% of all Mexican car sales go to the U.S., while the remaining 15% are shipped to Europe, Asia and South America, the report said.