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Box services between Asia and Mexico are increasing as rail plans focus on several border points

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Logistics connections in Mexico are becoming increasingly intensive: boxlines have launched direct trans-Pacific services from Asia and a significant expansion of rail infrastructure has been approved by the US government.

Cosco has started a weekly service to Mexico with the aim of “improving the transit time for the wave of goods imports from the Far East”. The WSA5 connects Busan, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo and Yokohama to three Mexican Pacific gateways, Ensenada, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas.

Cosco describes Mexico as a growth market that offers many opportunities, while currently only limited logistics resources are available – a shortage that the new service must address.

The airline has highlighted its plans for door-to-door services as it plans to develop integrated solutions with its partners in Mexico, such as Hutchison Ports in Ensenada, the string’s first port of call in Mexico.

Last month, CMA CGM announced a weekly container service between Asia and the west coast of Mexico, deploying eight ships for the operation, which sails from Tianjin via Qingdao and Busan to Ensenada, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, before returning to Tianjin.

Mexico, thanks to its emergence as a prime location for U.S. companies’ nearshoring plans, has experienced a surge in imports from Asia. In the first four months of the year, imports through Mexican ports rose 17.7% to 12.9 million teu, while inbound flows through the country’s Pacific gateways rose 18.9%.

The second wave of the nearshoring bonanza for Mexico is the flow of goods across the US border – worth $200 billion in the first quarter – with the lion’s share transported by trucks, while rail transport accounts for 12.2%, with the majority cross the border at Laredo. 43.3%) and Eagle Pass (35.3%).

Both parties would like to expand rail capacity. On Wednesday, US President Biden informed his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that he had given the green light to three international bridge projects to ease the cross-border movement of vehicles and trains.

The permits clear the way for construction of bridges connecting Eagle Pass to Piedras Negras, and Brownsville to Matamoros, and the expansion of the World Trade International Bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. Last year, Laredo overtook Los Angeles to become the top gateway for U.S. imports.

President López Obrador said the new projects would “greatly help the economic and commercial development of the entire region.”

Parties involved in the Green Eagle Railroad project for the bridge between Great Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras called it a step toward improving cross-border transit and providing an alternate route in the event of border closures.

However, there are reservations on the Mexican side. A few weeks ago, Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier announced that a planned rail line for a new intermodal project to connect the Pacific port of Mazatlan to the U.S. and Canadian markets would not pass through Texas.

Last year, waves of migrants heading to the border caused U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to shift from cargo handling to immigration, resulting in the closure of truck lanes with long delays for trucks entering the U.S. This was exacerbated by safety inspections of trucks by the Texas Department of Public Safety, at the behest of the state’s governor – a move that was widely criticized in the trade and logistics communities.

Ms Clouthier left no doubt as to the rationale for her position against a route through Texas. She said: “We cannot put all our eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who also wants to use trade as a political tool.”

All three new bridge projects approved by the White House touch Texas.

Meanwhile, there are ambitions to further increase Mexico’s role as a conduit for freight flows to the US. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announced that the two presidents had agreed that a high-level Mexican delegation would visit Washington to present the planned Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Corridor and investment opportunities to U.S. officials and businesspeople.

The trade corridor, centered around a modernized rail line connecting Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts to a chain of industrial parks, has been touted as a potential alternative to the Panama Canal.

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