2019 Conference Objective

The 2019 JOC Mexico Trade Conference will provide information and insights that Mexican and other cargo owners and forwarders can use to plan and execute shipments of containerized cargo. At their core, JOC Events create value for beneficial cargo owners — including retailers, manufacturers, consumer product firms, and energy agribusiness organizations — through intensive programming that addresses key operational, pricing, and strategic challenges shippers face when leveraging end-to-end container shipping services to support their supply chains. Leveraging its editorial team of veteran journalists, the JOC Mexico Trade Conference is built out of the industry-leading news and analysis appearing on JOC.com and in The Journal of Commerce to deliver the latest data, information, and potential industry solutions to the supply chain challenges and chokepoints that freight interests wrestle with daily.

Theme:
Improving Cargo Fluidity in a New — Yet Turbulent — Era

The stars are aligning for Mexico’s transportation and logistics sector, with cargo volumes through the ports growing, the number of trucks across the border rising, and a new sense of stability and hope. The cloud of a possible dismantling of the North American Free Trade Agreement has receded, replaced with the United States, Canada, Mexico Agreement. Mexico has a new president, a major upgrade about to open at the Port of Veracruz, and a sense that the country could be the biggest beneficiary of a prolonged US-China trade war, as Mexican manufacturing, just over the US border, becomes increasingly attractive to investors.

 

Yet to make the most of its good fortune, Mexico will need to overcome some deep-seated fluidity issues that torment the nation’s logistics and transportation sector. Top of the list are the  increasingly disruptive security issues on trucks and trains. Sporadic stoppages on the railroads due to social disturbances such as the teacher’s strike that stopped all trains at the Pacific Coast ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas for three weeks in January — have raised questions about rail’s reliability. And two new laws targeting the trucking sector, one requiring double-tractor trailers to be certified with the government and the other limiting driver service hours, have squeezed capacity that was already tight because of a driver shortage.

 

That’s put shippers in the position of opting for hard-to-find, increasingly expensive trucking services or putting their faith in the sporadically unreliable rail services. Compounding the dilemma are pressures from steady growth in cargo volumes through the ports, which rose 8.7 percent last year, led by a 9.6 percent increase in imports, following 12 percent growth in 2017. The upward trend continued at the start of 2019, with volumes rising 7 percent.

 

That throughput has evolved even as the country has struggled economically. Manufacturing is stagnant, leaving economic growth to be driven by the service sector, and Mexico’s GDP is expected to expand by just 1.8 percent in 2019, according to IHS Markit. Clouding the forecast are high risks related to security and corruption.

 

The picture hasn’t changed dramatically with the arrival of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose policies on transportation and logistics issues are a work in progress that the industry is eyeing warily. High among industry concerns is the direction of an overhaul of the nation’s customs laws, which is long overdue, according to industry executives who say their goods face unnecessary delays at the border. So too is the president’s attitude toward freight transportation in general, his spending plan for infrastructure, and even his attitude toward business.

 

A key factor in determining how Mexico handles this diverse array of factors, and gets to grips with the need for improved cargo fluidity across the board, may be its embrace of technology. Decidedly lagging richer, more developed countries, Mexico has nevertheless harnessed technology deftly - especially to track, trace and monitor containers — in its fight against cargo theft, and projects to use blockchain to speed up the customs process at the Port of Veracruz, and to create a digital trucking rate benchmark, could point the way to the future. What comes next could be decisive.

 

Now in its second year, the JOC Mexico Trade Conference will dig into the issues shippers focus on as they assess Mexico’s readiness to handle sustained cargo transportation growth, and whether the challenges of moving cargo in and out of the country cancel out the many benefits of manufacturing goods in the country, or importing goods for local consumption. The conference will examine these and other topics, with a view to giving shippers, forwarders, and other transportation providers actionable intelligence and the opportunity to meet new partners to better manage their containerized supply chains.

Topics to be Explored:

Market Analysis:
Examining the outlook for container shipping in Mexico and worldwide

 

Finding Trucking Capacity:
With a driver shortage and new regulations, where will Mexico find more capacity

 

The Rail Conundrum:
Trucking capacity is tight, so why isn’t rail taking off?

 

Port Stickiness:
What stops customers moving from troubled ports to user-friendly ones  nearby?

 

Cargo Security:
Signs of optimism in the face of continued escalation.

 

Customs Reform:
What should the government address as it refines a burdensome system?

 

Transportation Policy:
Transportation, trade, and logistics in the era of President Andre Manuel Lopez Obrador and USCMA.

 

Shipper Case Studies