Attendees at last week’s Cancun meeting see the achievement of enhanced Mexican port operations as a goal worthy of pursuit.

Last week approximately six hundred customs brokers from all corners of the country met in Cancun, Quintana Roo to participate in the Fifty-Sixth Annual National Congress of Foreign Trade and Customs. One of the purposes of the gathering was to focus on increasing the efficiency of Mexican port operations. As things stand at present on a nationwide basis, cargo that arrives at Mexican port facilities, on average, takes twelve days to be processed. The goal discussed at the foreign trade event consisted in the reduction of this period to five.

Discussions among members of the group revealed that some customs brokerages, which service large customers, are currently meeting the challenge of moving merchandise through Mexican port operations with greater speed by conducting pre-inspection of goods to be imported at the point outside of Mexico from which the items are being shipped. Doing this requires, however, that customs brokers coordinate their activities with Mexico’s Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT), or National Tax Administration Service.

During the course of this year’s Congress of Foreign Trade and Customs, attendees also examined two programs that have been implemented to varying degrees at several Mexican port operations. These programs are “Puertos sin Papeles,” and “Marca de Calidad,” “Ports without paper,” and “Quality Brand,” respectively.

The “Ports without Papers” program is one that is aimed at modernizing Mexican port operations by streamlining procedures through the implementation of a web-based system that allows all actors taking part in an international trade transaction taking place at a Mexican port to have real-time access to the information that they need to do their jobs. Among the parties with access to the system are:

  • customs brokers
  • ocean freight companies
  • intermodal shippers
  • port directors, administrators and logistics personnel
  • consignees

The implementation and use of the system has been the reduction in the number of steps required to be taken to deal with steps in the importation process that are related to financing and permitting, and controlling traffic and making payments. To varying degrees the Ports without Papers program has been set up and is operational in five federally administered ports. Its presence is visible at Ensenada, Veracruz and Lazaro Cardenas. Ports without Papers is fully in place in the Ports of Manzanillo and Altamira.

The second program discussed at the Cancun meeting is the “Marca de Calidad,” or Quality Brand program. Quality brand was identified as an initiative to be implemented in the 2007-2012 plan of Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), or its Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. The program saw its first implementation at the five aforementioned ports in 2012, after a study was conducted that revealed that, in order to improve customer service, Mexican port operations would first need to:

  • establish a more cohesive coordination between all actors at the nation’s ports that would promote the achievement of a “smooth, door to door” supply chain;
  • work to create alliances between complementary and cooperating parties within and outside of the Mexico’s ports:
  • develop a culture of adherence to standard, world-class quality practices and principles at the nations ocean shipping and receiving facilities.