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New Era for Merchant Marine

Cap. Alt. Ildefonso Carrillo Mora - SEMAR
Director General of Merchant Marine


Wed, 06/01/2022 - 16:27

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Q: What issues did you face when you first took on this role?

A: First, we had to recover a number of permitting processes that had been delayed during the previous administration. All applications for port concessions must go through our office and by my desk, along with fare logs, expansion and investment applications, maritime project authorizations, other types of evaluations and general paperwork. We had to put an end to these delays in order to meet processing deadlines. Soon after, we began working to promote the administration’s plans in terms of port investments to enhance regional growth and boost the maritime sector.

I also have experience in port logistics and development. My tenure working for private, regulated entities in Mexico’s port infrastructure gave me a positive outlook on the applicable 20-year-old laws and their ability to promote investment. I am also interested in helping bridge gaps in the legal framework to facilitate investments. 

Q: How are you dealing with bottlenecks in Mexico’s port infrastructure and operations?

A: The best way to alleviate port bottlenecks is to address them individually and be able to differentiate what solutions are within your power and which are not. To understand bottlenecks, you first have to think about a port as a system that gets divided into four main subsystems: water access, berths, storage, plus other types of yard space and finally, land infrastructure and connections, such as highways. These four subsystems are used for all import and export traffic, while transshipment traffic uses only the first three. Anyone in charge of managing an API and ASIPONA needs to address the needs of each one of these subsystems, both individually and also in an integrated way. This concept applies to the initial design of the facility. For example, 5km of berths are useless when paired with only 2ha of yards: your storage space for all incoming vessels will be designed to run out. Every API and ASIPONA must, by law, have a Port Development Master Program and these balances must be implemented in that plan.

In general, we are interested in implementing a greater collaborative approach. We want our procedures to create fewer obstacles in the development of ports and for the people involved. I have seen a lack of communication on the regulatory framework from port users and relevant stakeholders. Closing this gap represents one of our main challenges. We will accomplish this through traditional promotional means and extensive and explicit use of our digital and web platforms. In addition, it is very important to work with all APIs and ASIPONAs and promote the necessary investments for existing and new port development projects. This means obtaining resources from private parties, the federal government and state governments as well. 

Q: How do you manage your budget?

A: APIs and ASIPONAs have their own budget and are mostly self-sufficient. They make up the basis of different types of standardized fares they charge all port users. This amount will usually cover all maintenance needs and is allocated for new projects, setting the field for private investment. This allows many new projects to be financed without taking money from federal or other fiscal budgets. In line with the government’s austerity measures, we try to keep all of these facilities operational despite a limited federal budget. For these and other reasons, the private sector plays a very prominent role in the development of port infrastructure, particularly in new projects. Our role is to enforce a regulatory framework that can present these investments in a context of transparency. Coastal and port protection, dredging, channeling and land reclamation projects make up most of the API and ASIPONA and port development budgets.

The General Directorate of Ports works hand-in-hand with the General Directorate of Merchant Marine, the General Directorate of Development and Port Administrations and with all APIs and ASIPONAs. We authorize all projects, and register and monitor the concessions and tariffs for all the ports. Some of our largest projects include the expansion of the Manzanillo port toward the Cuyutlan lagoon, the expansion of the Progreso port, the new section of the Veracruz port and the development projects at Puerto Chiapas. In addition, the rehabilitation of the Tehuantepec Isthmus also involved significant development of the Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz ports. By presidential decree, those projects will be executed by an organism separate from our directorate.


The General Coordination of Ports & Merchant Marine works within SEMAR to administer and promote Mexico’s port infrastructure and the development of its marine logistics industry.

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