The Port Authority of San Antonio has been working actively with the Communist Chinese to open and develop NAFTA shipping ports in Mexico.
The plan is to ship containers of cheap goods produced by under-market labor in China and the Far East into North America via Mexican ports. From the Mexican ports, Mexican truck drivers and railroad workers will transport the goods across the Mexican border with Texas. Once in the U.S., the routes will proceed north to Kansas City along the NAFTA Super-Highway, ready to be expanded by the Trans-Texas Corridor, and NAFTA railroad routes being put in place by Kansas City Southern. Kansas City Southern’s Mexican railroads has positioned the company to become the “NAFTA Railroad.”
Right now, the cost of shipping and ground transportation can nearly double the total cost of cheap goods produced by Chinese and Far Eastern under-market labor. The plan is to reduce those transportation costs by as much as 50% by using Mexican ports.
Cost-savings will be realized by bringing the goods into the U.S. at mid-continent. Equally important is that the substantially reduced cost of using Mexican labor in the ports and to transport the goods once off-loaded. Mexican workers undercut Longshoremen Union port employees on the docks of Los Angeles and Long Beach, just as Mexican truck drivers undercut the Teamsters and Mexican railroad workers undercut United Transportation Union railroad workers. By using the Mexican ports, the international corporations managing this global trade are able to avoid the U.S. labor union workers who otherwise would unload the ships in west coast ports and transport the Asian containers into the heart of America by U.S. truckers or U.S. railroad ground transport moving east across the Rocky Mountains.
In April 2006, officials of the Port Authority of San Antonio traveled to China with representatives of the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, and Hutchinson Port Holdings to develop the Mexican ports logistics corridor. The goal of the meetings in China was described by the March 2006 e-newsletter of the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio:
In January of 2006, a collaboration of several logistics entities in the U.S. and Mexico began operation of a new multimodal logistics corridor for Chinese goods entering the U.S. Market. The new corridor brings containerized goods from China on either Maersk or CP Ships service to the Mexican Port of Lazaro Cardenas. There, the containers are off loaded by a new world class terminal operated by Hutchinson Ports based in Hong Kong. The containers are loaded onto the Kansas City Southern Railroad de Mexico where they move in-bound into the U.S. The containers clear U.S. customs in San Antonio, Texas and are processed for distribution.
Hutchinson Whampoa, a diversified company that manages property development and telecommunications companies, with operations in 54 countries and over 200,000 employees worldwide, is also one of the world’s largest port operators. Hutchinson Ports Holding (HPH) owns Panama Ports Co., which operates the ports of Cristobal and Balboa which are located at each end of the Panama Canal. HPH also operates the industrial deepwater port of Lazaro Cardenas in the Mexican State of Michoacan, as well as the Mexican port at Manzanillo, also along the west coast of Mexico, north of Lazaro Cardenas.
The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio was created in 1994 to promote the development of San Antonio’s inland port. The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio and the Port Authority of San Antonio are both members of NASCO, an acronym for the group’s formal name, the North American’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc. A Kansas City Star newspaper article posted on the website of the Kansas City SmartPort, another NASCO member, shows the importance of San Antonio’s inland port to the developing NAFTA Super-Highway and NAFTA railroad corridor emerging along Interstate I-35. According to reporter Rick Alm, San Antonio envisions the opening of a Mexican customs office in their inland port, a move that has been pioneered by Kansas City SmartPort:
Under this area’s arrangement [establishing a Mexican customs facility in the Kansas City SmartPort], freight would be inspected by Mexican authorities in Kansas City and sealed in containers for movement directly to Mexican destinations with fewer costly border delays. The arrangement would become even more lucrative when Asian markets that shipped through Mexican ports were figured into the mix. “We applaud the efforts of Kansas City and the Mexican government in developing a Mexican customs facility there,” said Jorge Canavati, marketing director for Kelly USA [former name for San Antonio’s inland port established on the former site of Kelly Air Force Base]. He said a Mexican customs function for KellyUSA “is something that is still far away … We may be looking at that” in the future.
A world map on the North American Inland Ports Network (NAIPN) on the NASCO website graphically highlights in yellow the trade routes from China across the Pacific ocean, to Mexico at the ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, entering the U.S. through San Antonio.
A Free Trade Alliance San Antonio 2005 summary of goals and accomplishments documents the direct involvement of the Bush administration into the development of San Antonio’s inland port NAFTA plans. The following were among the bulleted points:
- Organized four marketing trips to Mexico and China to promote Inland Port San Antonio and met with prospects. Met with over 50 prospects/leads during these trips.
- Continued to pursue cross border trucking by advocating a pilot project with at least two major Mexican exporters as potential subjects. Worked with U.S. Department of Transportation, Dept. of Homeland Security and U.S. Trade Representative on this concept.
- Working with Mexican ports to develop new cargo routes through the Ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Candenas.
- San Antonio is on the route of the Trans-Texas Corridor planned to be built along I-35 from Laredo, Tex., on the Mexican Border, north through Dallas, en route to the Oklahoma border.
The development of a China-Mexico trade route reflects a fundamental shift since the passage of NAFTA. At the peak in the mid-1990s, there were some three thousand maquiladoras located in northern Mexico, employing over 1 million Mexicans in low-paying, assembly sweat-shops. Today, even Mexican labor is not cheap enough for the international corporations seeking only to maximize profits. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, that bubble has burst and the maquiladora activity is down over 25 percent from the peak as the international corporations have found even cheaper labor in China.
As the Port of San Antonio evidences, linking NAFTA inland ports with NAFTA super-highways and NAFTA railroads is an important part of the development plan for the emerging global free trade economy. San Antonio officials by working with the communist Chinese to open Mexican ports for NAFTA trade evidence that plan. International capitalists are now determined to exploit cheap Mexican labor, not so much for manufacturing and assembly, but as a means of saving port and transportation costs in the North American market.
The Bush Administration seems on-board with the plan, aiming to increase corporate capital gains in NAFTA markets rather than worrying about the adverse consequences to Mexican low-skilled workers or to the U.S. labor movement that transferring increasing amounts of manufacturing and assembly to China entails.