Phoenix And Mexico Leaders Discuss Key Port Expansion

By Jude Joffe-Block
April 12, 2013

Photo by Jude Joffe-Block
Members of the Phoenix trade mission Todd Sanders, Gene Seroka, and Margie Emmermann outside of the Secretariat of Transportation and Communications in Mexico City.
MEXICO CITY — At a meeting with a delegation from Phoenix on Thursday, Mexico’s director of ports, Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa shared plans to expand the shipping capabilities of the port in Guaymas, Sonora.

The port of Guaymas is on the Sea of Cortez, about 250 miles South of Nogales.

Earlier this year, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a public-private investment of more than 7 billion pesos — which is roughly $600 million — into the project of modernizing and expanding the port.

Arizona leaders believe greater capacity at that port would boost the state’s international trade, which lags behind California and Texas, as well as nurture growth in Arizona’s shipping logistics industry.

Thursday’s meeting was one of several Phoenix city officials and business leaders are holding this week in Mexico City as part of a trade mission.

Margie Emmermann, who currently leads the Arizona Mexico Commission and advises Arizona’s governor on Mexico policy, said she has been hearing about Guaymas extension plans since she entered this field almost 20 years ago.

“There has been so much talk about Guaymas as a port, but it really has never materialized to its true potential,” Emmerman said. “I think this is the time now with the important investment that is being made and Mexico focusing on it and the government of Mexico putting a lot of attention in it. I think we are now going to see the realization of that opportunity.”

According to materials distributed by the Mexican Secretariat of Transportation and Communication, the plan is to add ten terminals to handle mineral shipments, and add 2.5 million tons of capacity by 2015, and an additional 23.8 million tons of capacity by 2020.

In the course of the meeting, Ruiz de Teresa invited members of the delegation to send him comments about what should be included in the plan. He also agreed to a future meeting in Phoenix to discuss the details.

Members of the Phoenix delegation were cheered by the collaborative spirit of the meeting.

“It is a huge opportunity for us to be on the ground floor to say, 'Hey, if this is going to be a reality, here is how it will work best for Arizona,'” said Todd Sanders of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Peter O'Dowd
Copper concentrate from Arizona is loaded on a ship bound for China at the port in Guaymas, Mexico.

Sanders said one issue to address will be how to increase railroad access to the port. Another will be what kind of cargo will be handled at the port.

Ruiz de Teresa said Mexico is envisioning the port’s primary purpose as transporting bulk minerals, but Arizona interests hope it will also handle shipping containers.

One business that will be watching the port plans closely is the global shipping container and logistics firm APL, which has 350 employees in Phoenix.

"It might be an alternative gateway," said Eugene Seroka, president of the company's Americas office. "It is early days, but it is kind of intriguing to look at a new way of managing a supply chain for our clients."