“The whole idea of creating a relief point in Mexico was based on LA/Long Beach being maxed out. That’s not going to happen now.”

Ocean cargo: Proposed Mexican seaport gets new attention
Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor — Logistics Management, 9/2/2008

LOS ANGELES—Shippers tired of congestion and slow downs at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were given some promising news last week about an alternative gateway on the Pacific Rim.

 “The Punta Colonet container ship project will transform and revolutionize the productivity of the country,” said Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon last week. He added that plans for the seaport 150 miles south of Ensenada in Baja Mexico would be significant rival to its North American rivals.

 With bidding now open for a 45-year concession to operate the port and rail line to the U.S. border, Mexico plans to have Punta Colonet ready for business by 2012.

 Some industry analysts are skeptical, however.

 “We understand that some of the initial bidders have already pulled out,” said Dr. John Martin, president of Martin Associates, an economic consulting firm specializing in international trade. “And there’s reason to believe that the project is not as attractive to some investors as it might have been a couple of years ago.”

 According to Martin, ocean carrier redeployments to an “all-water” service linking Asia to the EU via the Suez Canal has meant less volume for the U.S. West Coast recently.

 “This means more cargo is sourced through U.S. East Coast ports,” he said, “and we see this trend continuing. The whole idea of creating a relief point in Mexico was based on LA/Long Beach being maxed out. That’s not going to happen now.”

 Industry analysts have also noted that the Canadian port of Prince Rupert is not attracting the massive shipments projected before it enlarged its operations a few years ago.

 “The West Coast longshore labor situation has stabilized, too,” noted Martin, “and shippers are not so worried about a long-term shutdown here again.

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