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Mexico’s logistics links are ramping up: box lines have launched direct transpacific services from Asia and a significant expansion of rail infrastructure has been sanctioned by the US administration.

Cosco has started a weekly service to Mexico that aims to “improve transit time for the wave of merchandise imports from the far east”. The WSA5 links  Busan, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo and Yokohama with three Mexican Pacific gateways, Ensenada, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas.

Cosco describes Mexico as a growth market that brings many opportunities, while having only limited logistics resources at this point – a deficit that the new service is meant to address.

The carrier has stressed its plans for door-to-door service, as it intends to develop integrated solutions with its partners in Mexico, such as Hutchison Ports in Ensenada, the string’s first port of call in Mexico.

Last month, CMA CGM announced a weekly container service between Asia and Mexico’s west coast, using eight vessels for the operation, which is routed from Tianjin via Qingdao and Busan to Ensenada, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, before returning to Tianjin via Yokohama and Busan.

Turbo-charged by its emergence as a prime location for US companies’ nearshoring plans, Mexico has enjoyed a surge in imports from Asia. In the first four months of the year, imports through Mexican ports were up 17.7%, to 12.9m teu, while inbound flows through the country’s Pacific gateways surged 18.9%.

The second string of the nearshoring bonanza for Mexico is the flow of goods across the US border – worth $200bn in the first quarter– with the lion’s share carried on trucks, while rail transport accounts for 12.2%, mostly crossing the border at Laredo (43.3%) and Eagle Pass (35.3%).

Both sides are eager to expand rail capacity. On Wednesday, US president Biden informed his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that he had given the green light to three international bridge projects to facilitate cross-border movement of vehicles and trains.

The permits clear the path for construction of bridges linking Eagle Pass with Piedras Negras, and Brownsville with Matamoros, and expansion of the World Trade International Bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.Last year, Laredo overtook Los Angeles to become the leading gateway for US imports.

President López Obrador said the new projects would “greatly help the economic and commercial development of the entire region”.

Parties associated with the Green Eagle Railroad project, for the bridge between Great Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, called it a step towards improving cross-border transits, as well as offering an alternative route in the event of border closures.

There are reservations on the Mexican side, though. A few weeks ago Mexico’s economy minister, Tatiana Clouthier, announced that a planned rail line for a new intermodal project to connect the Pacific port of Mazatlan with US and Canadian markets would not be going through Texas.

Last year, waves of migrants headed for the border caused shifts in US Customs and Border Protection personnel from cargo clearance to immigration, resulting in the closure of truck lanes with long delays for trucks moving into the US. This was exacerbated by truck safety inspections by the Texas Department of Public Safety, ordered by the state governor – a move widely criticised in the trade and logistics communities.

Ms Clouthier left no doubt about the reason for her stance against a route through Texas. She said: “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political too.”

All three new bridge projects sanctioned by the White House touch Texas.

Meanwhile, there are ambitions to raise Mexico’s role as a conduit for cargo flows to the US further still. Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the two presidents had agreed that a high-level Mexican delegation would visit Washington to pitch the planned Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and investment opportunities to US officials and business executives”.

The trade corridor, centred on a modernised train line linking Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts with a chain of industrial parks, is touted as a potential alternative to the Panama Canal.

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