Florida and Mexican ports sign agreement to promote trade

Florida and Mexican ports sign agreement to promote trade
Representatives of both parties at the signing

Florida Ports Council (FPC) has entered into a letter of intent (LOI) with Mexico’s Coordination of Ports and Merchant Marine to maintain relations and promote international commerce and economic development.

Mexico is the second largest trading partner of Florida and trade between the pair reached US$10.8bn last year. This was an 8.3% increase over 2017 in exports alone according to the US Department of Commerce.

Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the FPC, said: “While Mexico has been one of Florida’s strongest trading partners for years, there are real opportunities currently for growth in bilateral waterborne trade, and our partners in Mexico are enthusiastic about exploring the benefits and solutions all-water routes can provide.”

The agreement includes the creation of a working group of maritime commerce leaders from Mexico and Florida to review and identify issues, opportunities and challenges of enhancing the flow of international commerce between Mexico and Florida.

The working group’s efforts will included data analysis, identification of technological and regulatory enhancements and development of infrastructure facilitating sea transport.

Both signers of the LOI anticipate time and cost savings for their regions by maximising the efficiencies of all-water trade between the Florida ports and Mexican gulf ports.

Juan Kuryla, chairman of the FPC and PortMiami Director, said: “The all-water route from Mexico to Florida ports is the fastest way to move cargo, while saving on transportation and logistics costs.”

Eric Olafson, director of global trade and development at PortMiami told CM: “It gets away from uncertainty. You no longer have to worry about the electronic logging device (ELD) drivers’ times – where the truck drivers can only drive 8 hours and then have to rest overnight.

“You don’t have to worry about the uncertainty at the border. With the recent problems at the border, sometimes the wait has been up to 2 days to cross. If you use the water, there’s never a delay. Your cargo all clears while it’s on the ship before it even arrives at the port.”

Using the land route to cross the US-Mexico border means trucks have to go through both US and Mexican customs. The box also has to be checked in the presence of a Mexican agent, which also comes with extra costs.

By instead utilising the ocean route, goods are cleared electronically and there is only a small inspectionary check by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), added Olafson.

“That’s another cost you’re saving by using the water route instead of land,” he stated.