The transport infrastructure of Mexico is undergoing a quiet renaissance. Their ports were able to
handle 260 million metric tons in 2012. Over the last several years, their National Infrastructure Program has been able to nearly double that. The current standard is 470 million metric tons. It’s expected to reach 520 million metric tons by the end of 2018. International shipping from Mexico has been revolutionized.
This has involved upgrading and expanding a variety of ports. Primary among these is the Port of Veracruz, which has expanded its capacity to 90 million metric tons. Tuxpan, Matamoros, Altamira, and Manzanillo have also seen considerable expansion.
The expansion in the Port of Veracruz also represents something more. The port’s capacity was quadrupled in order to provide something of an overland competitor to the Panama Canal. Veracruz connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean through a brief overland route. It’s a matter of hours to transport to Pacific ports, which may be preferable and less expensive than waiting in the queue at the Panama Canal.
This also means that cargo would have to be unloaded from ship to truck or rail, and then unloaded back onto a ship on the other coast. Yet this can prove to be an effective strategy for many types of goods.
Now, the Panama Canal handles hundreds of metric tons of cargo a year. The Port of Veracruz still has a capacity of 90 million metric tons a year. This offers some competition, but it won’t change the fundamental shape of transporting between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. What it can do is offer an increased range of options that keep shipping rates along these routes low and increase speed along both.
International shipping from Mexico should also continue becoming easier and more efficient. Mexico itself is in a good position, with many countries seeing economic opportunities in a growing nation that’s also growing somewhat further from its closest partner, the U.S.