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Border: New customs requirements for Mexico shipments begin Wednesday

Mexican authorities estimate that about 60% of goods transported through the country have an illegal origin without the correct documentation. (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 for Mexico shipments begin Wednesday; Samsung announces $17B semiconductor plant in Texas; Great Lakes Dredge & Dock secures $92M contract for Houston Ship Channel; and Truck driver charged in record-breaking border drug seizure.

New customs requirements for Mexico shipments begin Wednesday

Hoping to quell a rising tide of smuggled goods and lost tax revenue, Mexico’s controversial new waybill regulations — known as the Carta Porte supplement — is scheduled to go into effect Wednesday.

The regulations from the Mexican Tax Authority (SAT) aim to reduce cargo theft and the movement of contraband throughout the country. The SAT also estimates that Mexican authorities are losing as much as $7 billion a year on uncollected taxes from smuggled goods.

Trade officials in Mexico said they support the new regulations but that cross-border operators should be given more time to prepare for the changes.

“We are convinced of how important it is to fight the smuggling that affects the industry so much, and how essential it is to strengthen formal trade in our country,” José Abugaber, president of the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of Mexico (CONCAMIN), said during a recent video posted on Facebook.

CONCAMIN represents more than 50 industrial chambers across different sectors and advocates for policy initiatives, while providing economic and legal advice to members. 

Abugaber said the organization is concerned about the short time remaining for the start of the new regulation.

It’s expected that on Wednesday, the SAT will begin trial enforcement without liability of the waybill information, and on Jan. 1, it will begin full enforcement.

“We have full confidence that the private sector can participate in an important way in the necessary and urgent training and dissemination of [Carta Porte] to a large percentage of service providers and users of all modes of transportation, including SMEs, which require regulatory and technological preparation,” Abugaber said.

“We are concerned about the short time remaining for the mandatory start of this provision. We make a call to consider the extension of the deadline for the entry into force of this complement only for the time strictly necessary to resolve some pending technical aspects.”

The SAT will require any entities sending goods through Mexico to modify their electronic invoices — known as CFDI in Spanish — with the Carta Porte supplement.

All freight of any size traveling by road, rail, air or sea through Mexico and all types of commodities will be required to have the supplement.

One of the forms that parties need to fill out for the supplement has up to about 160 questions. Providing the information will be the responsibility of the shipper, carrier and also suppliers involved in the shipment.

The SAT could fine shippers, carriers or other parties up to $4,500 for not having correct documentation. 

Anaid Chacon, Nuvocargo’s head of product, said the company hosted a customer event a few weeks ago during which many were asking about Carte Porte.

New York-based Nuvocargo is a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I think we broke all of our records of assistance during the event because a lot of people really want to know about the subject,” Chacon told FreightWaves.

The new requirements make it more important to vet potential suppliers and vendors to make sure they have the technological capability to handle the new rules, Chacon said.

“One of the things that we’ve seen a shift from, especially more even recently with the Carte Porte regulations changes, is that a lot of the vetting initially was very focused on price. This has now expanded also to include compliance,” Chacon said.

Shippers should be thinking about their suppliers, not only as a cost center and something that they need to spend money on, but as something that can give them a strategic advantage. 

“When you’re thinking about the vendors or carriers to work with, it’s thinking about what is their technological aptitude? What tools do they use to manage their internal teams? What kind of visibility do they have in terms of KPIs for metrics that they care about internally as a company; are they able to produce those reports?” Chacon said.

“There’s a lot of changes happening very quickly, as results of regulations or as results of also things that happened with COVID, that you need to be able to respond quickly to and asking those questions [is] super valuable.”

Samsung announces $17B semiconductor plant in Texas

Samsung plans to build a $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Texas to tackle a global shortage of chips, officials said.

“With greater manufacturing capacity, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain,” Kinam Kim, Samsung’s vice chairman and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday.

The South Korea-based company’s newest factory could create 2,000 high-tech jobs directly and is scheduled to open by the end of 2024.

A global semiconductor chip shortage has affected different manufacturing sectors around the world. Short supplies of semiconductors have hampered production of new vehicles and electronic devices over the past year.

“Increasing domestic production of semiconductor chips is critical for our national and economic security,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a statement. 

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock secures $92.5M contract for Houston Ship Channel 

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp. has signed a $92.5 million dredging contract for the Houston Ship Channel Widening and Improvement, known as Project 11.

It represents the first phase of the Houston Ship Channel expansion and deepening program. Dredging is expected to begin in early 2022.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock will dredge 11.5 miles of the channel to widen a portion of the bay from 530 feet to 700 feet, according to a release. It will pump 1.6 million cubic yards of dredged material to construct an island for a bird habitat and oyster reef.

The project will allow for larger container and petrochemical ships to navigate the Houston Ship Channel to access the Port of Houston. 

Truck driver charged in record-breaking border drug seizure 

A truck driver from Mexico faces federal drug charges after he was caught with record-breaking amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl while trying to cross into the U.S., authorities said.

Carlos Martin-Quintana-Arias was arrested on Nov. 18 after 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 389 pounds of fentanyl were seized from a tractor-trailer he was driving at the U.S.-Mexico port of entry in Otay Mesa, California, just south of San Diego.

Authorities said the truck manifest listed automotive parts as the load being transported. Martin-Quintana-Arias was arraigned in San Diego federal court on Nov. 19 on two counts of importation of a controlled substance.

Authorities did not provide an estimated street value for the drugs seized from the truck.

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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 Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]