Focus on Uninterrupted Flow of MerchandiseMon, 10/21/2013 - 12:13
NAFTA brought many benefits and also many drawbacks for those providing customs services. As stressed by Napoléon Romo Medrano, Partner at Agentes Aduanales Sonora, importers were not used to an open market. Mexico had previously had a protectionist policy in place, and by approving this agreement customs barriers ceased to exist. An open economy competition is fostered. At the beginning this posed difficulties for customs agencies, though they became used to the new system quickly and, thanks to the competition, service quality was enhanced: “We improved our customs service as a result of deregulation and the elimination of many requirements, which streamlined our operations,” Romo Medrano says. For Agentes Aduanales Sonora the current average dispatch time is 72 hours. As soon as the merchandise arrives, an examination of the goods is carried out, and the next day the customs requisition is ready for the client’s approval. Once it is approved the merchandise is released. “In the mining industry there are many emergencies, and in those cases we can deliver merchandise in 24 hours. This is what makes us different from other customs agents. Agentes Aduanales Sonora, based in Nogales, Sonora, is formed by three partners. This partnership provides us with a secure operating framework.
Even though each of us is an independent agent, we work together because if for some reason one of us becomes unfit, the other agents keep working and the clients are not affected. Companies are encouraged to export, which at the same time means importing the supplies that are needed for production. With a modern customs system, merchandise is no longer a customs hostage,” he adds. For urgent imports, once the merchandise has arrived Agentes Aduales Sonora’s personnel are already waiting for it with the appropriate transportation vehicle, and priority is given to it over all other consignments. Once the motion is complete, it is revised and approved and the merchandise can move on to its final destination. “Of course, the merchandise also has to go through customs, which delays the delivery. Nevertheless, the processing is carried out quickly and efficiently,” says Romo Medrano.
The main services that Agentes Aduanales Sonora offers its mining clients are machinery imports for mining activities, machinery exports for repairs, and finished products, such as processed metals. The main challenge is to implement an almost perfect logistics process, preventing any problems from the moment the merchandise leaves the plant to its delivery across the border. “This includes ensuring that there are no errors on the requisition, in order to prevent any issues at the customs post, as otherwise the merchandise might be detained until the situation is clarified,” Romo Medrano explains.
Romo Medrano views the role of customs agencies in the mining industry as essential, because it is up to them to keep productive processes going uninterrupted: “An equipment or machine on standby represents a high cost for a mining operation. We are the foundation of the sector, from the supply perspective, since most mining companies and the equipment they are using are of foreign origin. We have to ensure that machinery and equipment moves quickly and smoothly.” Even though this is a fairly easy process the company faces the hurdle of dealing with machinery that often exceeds maximum dimensions. When this type of merchandise arrives to Mexico additional permits are required for road transit, which may delay or even prevent its eventual delivery. “That is the most serious problem we face, because the customs posts frequently lack the authorized personnel, so we have to go to another city where the Federal Highway Police Office that grants the permits has a base. This is illogical and only leads to drastic reductions in how competitive we can be. There must be an agency belonging to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation that can grant these permits quickly,” Romo Medrano argues. For Agentes Aduanales Sonora the growth of the mining industry represents a larger quantity of companies and an opportunity to capture new clients that are opening offices in Mexico. In order to take advantage of this opportunity the company takes part in all mining exhibitions in Mexico, as well as events in the US and Canada, in order to be aware of potential customers’ investment intentions. “The current international metal prices encourage greater foreign and domestic investment in the sector. There will be more imports and exports as the market grows and that will translate into benefits for everyone,” Romo Medrano adds