Investment in port infrastructure has grown in the past four years. Nevertheless, this development has been insufficient considering Mexico's sizeable coastal opportunities for its commercial activity, experts argue.
Since 2018, the public and private sectors have invested MX$7.32 billion (US$366.8 million) in port infrastructure development. During his Fourth Government Report, President López Obrador shared the data supporting the priority his government has given to strategic infrastructure development.
The data shows that in the past four years, the federal government invested MX$1.59 billion (US$79.6 million) in developing and strengthening port infrastructure. MX$283 million (US$12.9 million) of fiscal resources were also granted toward this purpose. The rest of the investment, equivalent to MX$5.45 billion (US$273.1 million), came from the private sector.
Among the work that has been carried out with these funds is the expansion of the Port of Veracruz, which includes the reinforcement of the upper vehicular bridge of the Santa Fe beltway, with MX$10.4 million (US$521,200) of public investment and a project progress of 57 percent. There is also the development of the tourist cruise ferry terminal in the Port of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, with an investment of MX$224 million and progress of 18 percent. Moreover, there are works carried out by Infraestructura Energética Nova at the Port of Topolobampo, Sinaloa. Here, the company is building seven gasoline and diesel storage tanks.
There are currently 118 ports in the country, of which 16 are federal. The rest are operated by various states or municipalities.
Challenges of Port Infrastructure:
"Ports and maritime trade represent a major strategic factor in our international and domestic trade, propelling Mexico's economic and commercial growth," explained Raúl Huerta, General Director, ASIPONA Salina Cruz to MBN.
However, the development of this strategic infrastructure has not kept pace with the country's needs. "Two types of investment are needed to make trade in Mexico more agile. The first is more port infrastructure. We have few ports at the national level. With our coastal availability, we should have much more infrastructure of this type," explained Omar Reyes, CFO, Energía Naviera.
"Both our exports and imports have grown exponentially in recent years, while our ports are not increasing in quantity. We have the same ports we had under the import substitution model but we move double the goods. This has produced a major bottleneck that is approaching a critical level," concluded Reyes.
Developing more port infrastructure requires heavy investment from both the public and private sectors. Although investments have increased over the past four years, they remain insufficient.
"Investors who want to invest in ports will have the same opportunities as the Navy," said Captain Carlos Alberto Gómez Martínez, General Director, Port Development and Administration during the 13th National Infrastructure Forum of the Mexican Institute of Finance Executives (IMEF).
Aside from the increase in infrastructure, another challenge facing Mexican ports is to digitize all processes to make trade and tourism more efficient and improve security.
In this regard, the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR) is preparing the implementation of the Smart and Safe Port (PIS) platform to integrate port information and provide greater security to the Administrations of the National Port System (ASIPONAS). PIS began its testing stage at the end of 2021 and will also improve the reliability, efficiency, cybersecurity of ports and their operations.