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Borderlands: New customs requirements in Mexico complicate trade industry

The Mexican Tax Authority has extended the deadline for enforcement of the controversial Carta Porte bill of lading supplement until Dec. 31. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: New customs requirements in Mexico complicate the trade industry; U.S. rail manufacturers accuse China and Mexico of unfair import pricing; the Port of Corpus Christi partners with Mitsubishi for an ammonia plant; and FedEx offers discounted rates to shippers in Mexico.

New customs requirements in Mexico complicate trade industry

It has been more than a year since Mexican authorities announced new customs requirements for domestic and cross-border shipments aimed at increasing tax collection and helping reduce cargo theft in the country.

Despite the long transition period for the controversial customs regulation known as the Complemento Carta Porte (CCP) — a digital tax document issued to shipments aimed at protecting the transfer of legitimate goods across Mexico — confusion and frustration over the documents still perplex many shippers and carriers.

Josefina Blanco, legal and compliance lead at Nuvocargo, told FreightWaves some of their Mexican carrier partners have struggled with issuing the CCP on time and without errors. New York-based Nuvocargo is a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Most of our Mexican carrier partners would qualify as medium to large in size and are generally prepared to comply with the regulation when it comes into effect,” Blanco said. “However, even these carriers — which are generally better prepared to handle costs and administrative burdens associated with the issuance of CCP — have struggled with issuing the CCP consistently and in a timely manner.”

The Mexican Tax Authority (SAT) announced the creation of the new electronic CCP bill of lading requirement in May 2021. The CCP is a collection of over 120 data elements, which includes everything from shipper and consignee information, the cargo and its value, carrier equipment, driver information and routes taken in Mexico.

SAT has extended the deadline for enforcement of the CCP three previous times this year. The new deadline is Dec. 31, after which SAT could assess fines and penalties to any CCP issued with errors.

“Around 20% of our carriers have developed their own software to automate the issuance of CCP,” Blanco said. “Others are either relying on third-party software or are using the SAT’s platform, none of which are perfect at this stage. Carriers have informed us that they tend to avoid the SAT option due to repetitiveness of the fields, among other issues.”

The CCP regulation is not only creating confusion among trade professionals, it’s also raising the cost of doing business according to cross-border operators.

Refugio Muñoz, vice president of Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transport (Canacar), said CCP could raise administrative costs by as much as 15% for carriers, shipping companies and customs brokers.

Blanco said they are hearing similar issues about rising costs from Nuvocargo’s carrier partners. 

“The increase in operating costs is due to the need for more (and specialized) personnel, but also the costs associated with developing or purchasing third party software required to issue CCPs in a timely manner and in compliance with the regulation,” Blanco said.

US rail manufacturers accuse China and Mexico of unfair import pricing

The U.S. Freight Railcar Coupler Coalition has filed petitions with the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission asking for an investigation into freight railcar couplers from China and Mexico.

The petitions allege that China and Mexico-based industries are dumping freight railcar couplers in the United States, distorting the U.S. market and resulting in a significant loss of American jobs.

The coalition — consisting of U.S. producer McConway & Torley and the union workers at Amsted Rail Co. — filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions Sept. 28.

The new petitions come just three months after the same petitioners lost their previous freight railcar coupler antidumping and countervailing duty petition filed against China in September 2021. In June 2022, the ITC ruled that the domestic industry was not injured or threatened with injury by imported Chinese freight rail couplers.

The new petitions add Mexico to the complaint. Freight rail coupler systems and components are metal structures used to connect freight railcars together. 

In 2021, China and Mexico made up a combined 75% of imports of freight rail couplers and component parts into the United States. The value of the subject merchandise imported in 2021 from China and Mexico was a combined $55.4 million, according to data from the Akin Gump law firm.

Port of Corpus Christi to partner with Mitsubishi Corp. for ammonia plant

Mitsubishi Corp. recently announced it has signed an agreement with the Port of Corpus Christi in South Texas to collaborate on a large-scale production hub for ammonia, according to Reuters.

The proposed ammonia production facility is part of Mitsubishi’s efforts to create a supply chain of ammonia fuel to help Japan and other Asian countries fight climate change, the company’s senior vice president, Hiroki Haba, said at the International Conference on Fuel Ammonia held in Tokyo on Sept. 28. 

Ammonia is seen as a possible future clean energy source since it does not contain carbon. The ammonia produced at the Port of Corpus Christi would be shipped back to Japan, according to Haba.

Details of the partnership between Mitsubishi and the Port of Corpus Christi were not disclosed. Neither company returned a request for comment from FreightWaves.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp. is one of Japan’s largest international conglomerates, operating across 10 business segments ranging from energy, mining and construction to automotive manufacturing. The Port of Corpus Christi is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the United States’ largest energy export gateways

FedEx offers discounted rates to shippers in Puebla, Mexico

FedEx Express Mexico announced it has signed an agreement with the Mexican state of Puebla to offer discounted freight rates to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region.

The aim of the preferential rates — up to 40% in discounts — is to improve and strengthen the SMEs operating in the e-commerce market, officials said. The Mexican state of Puebla is located about two hours south of Mexico City. 

The agreement was signed by Olivia Salomón, Puebla’s economy secretary, and Jorge Torres Aguilar, vice president of operations for FedEx Express Mexico.

Salomón said the agreement will give SMEs in the state of Puebla access to a logistics infrastructure that can help them reach new markets both in Mexico and around the world.

Torres Aguilar said there are about 9,000 SMEs currently operating in Mexico and that FedEx Mexico has the capacity to process up to 250,000 daily parcel shipments.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]