MEXICO plans to build a new container terminal and auto handling facility at the Gulf coast port of Progreso in the state of Yucatan, to support an electronics, software and electric car manufacturing cluster planned for the southern part of the country.
Secretariat of Communications and Transportation's (SCT) general coordinator of ports Hector Lopez Gutierrez said the extra capacity, plus an industrial park planned near the port, are designed to lure foreign companies to the area, reported IHS Media.
The SCT will dredge areas of the existing port and use the fill to create a new terminal for containers and other cargo. "We are going to increase what is there," Mr Gutierrez was quoted as saying. "There is already a terminal for terminal of containers. But we are going to have a new one."
The SCT sees the area between the port and the nearby city of Merida as having the potential to become an electronics and software cluster for Korean and Japanese manufacturers, with a particular focus on the manufacture of electric cars, Mr Gutierrez said in an interview with JOC.com at the end of July.
The potential of the area has already drawn the attention of APM Terminals Yucatan, which operates the existing container terminal at the port. The operator said earlier this month that it will expand the terminal's container yard by one-fifth as part of a package of improvements aimed at meeting the needs of trade in the area.
The port is one of three slated for investment by the government. The others are the port of Manzanillo, where a new terminal would be built in the lagoon of Cuyutlan, and the port of Veracruz, where the investment will complete the expansion started by the nation's previous president Enrique Pena Nieto. That work included the construction of a new container terminal by Hutchison Group, which opened last month.
The volume of loaded cargo through Progreso, the third largest port on the Gulf coast, rose by 20.6 per cent in the first six months of the year to 50,398 TEU, compared to the same period the year before, while the volume through the port system as a whole increased by 3.4 per cent to 2.46 million loaded TEU, the SCT figures show.
APM Terminals Yucatan said it expects cargo volumes through the terminal to expand by 25 to 35 per cent in 2019. In addition to the yard expansion, costing US$714,000, the operator said it will add two new reach stackers to the terminal and launch a "digital client portal to streamline transactional efficiency."
The development of Progreso is part of a broader plan by the government to stimulate economic development in the areas outside Mexico's ports, in part to bring manufacturing closer to the ports.
Mr Gutierrez said the expanded port will be well positioned to export goods to the US east coast, as well as Central America and South America, and the population of the area around Merida will prove fertile ground for an electronics, software and auto cluster.
"There is a high level of technological capacity there," Mr Gutierrez said. The state of Yucatan, in which Merida and Progreso are located, is in the process of providing 130 hectares on which to locate companies attracted to the area, which the SCT is developing with roads, electricity and water lines, he said.