Customs is a source of concern for the current administration, which has had three customs directors so far. On Monday, the President recognized that his administration has not been able to control corruption at customs. According to his statements, synthetic drugs are entering through the port of Manzanillo, Mexico’s most important port, while “anti-corruption” actions are taking place in the Nuevo Laredo customs.
While visiting Manzanillo today, President AMLO made a “general” announcement in his daily press conference that the armed forces will be “in charge” of the customs located in land or ports because they have been poorly “managed”. The specificities of the plan as well as what will be the powers of the armed forces at customs are yet to be announced.
In the words of the president:
“We have taken the decision… that the land and sea customs will be in charge of the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of the Navy will be in charge of the customs in the ports.”
This is not the first time that armed forces have intervened in customs or ports. For instance, we recall that the Ministry of Navy took “control” of the Lazaro Cardenas Port and Manzanillo in 2013 and 2014 (news reports in Spanish), respectively. Furthermore, a decree was published in the Official Gazette that authorized the intervention of the navy in the ports in 2014, but their powers were limited to “policing in ports”. Nevertheless, we are aware that during this period international operations, such as exports regarding certain products (e.g. minerals), faced “difficulties” at customs.
Based on past experiences, we wonder whether importers or exporters in Mexico will face difficulties if the operation of customs or ports is indeed in charge of Mexican armed forces.
On Tuesday, Reforma published an article where experts called to review USMCA internally and periodically. Among the experts, Adrian Vázquez, our managing partner, considered that this review would allow to evaluate, for instance, if imports are integrating value chains or displacing national production.