Monday, January 28, 2013

From Forbes: For American Exporters, Mexico is the China Next Door

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/01/25/for-american-exporters-mexico-is-the-china-door/


Last year was a tough year for American exporters.   After steady increases since the bottom dropped out of the U.S. economy in 2008, exports have been on the upswing.
Out of the top 10 U.S. trading partners, however, Mexico stands apart so far this year. U.S. exports are rising and Mexico is one of the reasons why.
First, back in 2009, U.S. exported $1.5 trillion worth of goods and services around the world. That number rose to $1.8 trillion in 2010 and then to $2.1 trillion in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  In fact, U.S. exports have more than doubled from where they were in 2002. It’s as if the U.S. discovered it can make things again.
That’s where Mexico comes in.  Every major trading partner saw a decline of at least five percent in their imports from the U.S. Only Mexico continued to buy American.
In 2012, Mexican based companies, including American multinationals there, imported $199.9 billion worth of goods and services as of the end of the November, up from $198.3 billion in all of 2011, $163.4 billion in 2010 and $128.8 billion in 2009.  Ten years ago, in 2002, Mexico imported $97.4 billion from the U.S.
The U.S. still has a trade deficit with its southern neighbor, but it shrunk last year to $57.4 billion from $64.4 billion in 2011 and $66.4 billion in 2010.  The Mexico economy is moving right along, and the rebalancing of global manufacturing away from China is seen helping Mexico even more. U.S. companies, and Mexican multinationals, will be investing more in production there and buying U.S. goods to help them expand.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Mexico, trade there is up 377 percent since 1993 (the North American Free Trade Agreement began Jan. 1, 1994). U.S. exports to Mexico accounted for 13.4 percent of overall U.S. exports in 2011.
What are they buying? The top export categories in 2011 were electrical machinery ($32.3 billion), capital goods/equipment ($31.5 billion), mineral fuel and oil ($23.6 billion), vehicles ($18.1 billion), and plastic ($12.7 billion). On the commodities side, farm products to Mexico totaled $18.3 billion in 2011, making it the third largest U.S. agricultural export market after China and the E.U.  There’s also exports of private commercial services to Mexico worth some $25.2 billion in 2011, 4.6 percent more than 2010 and 62 percent greater than 2000.
How about this, computer accessories exports to Mexico in 2011 were $12.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2010, $6.02 billion in 2009 and just $4.2 billion in 2002.  Mexico is our next door China.
For auto parts makers, exports were up to $15.6 billion in 2011 from $12.6 billion in 2010. In 2002, it was $8.6 billion, according to the Census.
Telecommunications equipment exports were $6.06 billion in 2011, up from $5.6 billion in 2010 and $2.7 billion in 2002, according to the most recent data.
U.S. exports also rose last year to France and Russia, two members of the G8.
Although the country is not in the top 10 of U.S. trading partners, France imported $28.4 billion worth of goods and services in 2012, up from $27.8 billion in 2011 and $26.9 billion in 2010.  For their part, U.S. exports to Russia were valued at $9.5 billion last year, $8.2 billion in 2011 and $6 billion in 2010.
Exports to India and Indonesia, two other highly populated countries, were also down, though Indonesia was basically flat, Census data shows.
Mexico stands alone.  Viva Mexico!

From the Globe and Mail: Why Mexico's sunny economy is good news for Canada

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/why-mexicos-sunny-economy-is-good-news-for-canada/article7764461/


High unemployment, slow growth and crippling debt are common themes in many industrialized countries – but not in Mexico.
The unemployment rate in Latin America’s second-largest economy has fallen to its lowest level in more than four years, at 4.5 per cent, statistics showed this week. Economic growth is outperforming most other countries and the stock market is hitting record highs.
A solid jobs market and stable economy is bolstering the country’s middle class. But it could also carry benefits for Canada too. Mexico is Canada’s fifth-largest destination for exports (though trade is still tiny compared with that of the U.S.) and many Canadian firms are setting their sights on Mexico, betting prospects will keep improving.
Trade between Canada and Mexico grew 8 per cent between 2002 and 2011 (at compound annual growth rates), and EDC expects growth to continue. Mexico's large population, at 112 million and upbeat economic prospects "will have positive effects on their demand for Canadian products as well as open business opportunities for Canadian companies looking at doing business in that market," the agency said.
“Mexico’s recent growth run is impressive, and is set to continue,” said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Bank in a note Thursday.
The country’s economy is expected to expand 3.5 per cent this year – a little less than last year but still stronger than projected growth rates for Canada, the United States and much of Latin America.
Recent amendments to modernize labour laws are also expected to buoy economic growth.
Inflation, meantime, is slowing and interest rates are expected to remain at a record low.
That’s not to gloss over challenges. Crime rates, including drug-related killings, remain high. Still, murders in the country’s hardest-hit states declined last year as turf wars among cartels diminished, and the new government has laid out security plans that aim to curb the country’s crime rates.
While much of the world’s economies, such as China and Brazil, slid in a slowdown last summer, Mexico “was a rare and notable exception...generating remarkably smooth growth,” Mr. Hall notes.
Sturdy consumer spending (though it did subside a little in the third quarter of last year), strong government investment and robust exports are driving growth.
The rate of private investment has cooled a bit lately, but Mr. Hall contends that’s temporary – principally because Mexican exports stand to benefit from a revival in U.S. housing, consumer and corporate markets.
The bottom line, he says: “Over the coming months, this market will be one to watch.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From The News (Mexico City): Veracruz supports entrepreneurship

http://www.thenews.com.mx/index.php/nation-articulos/4745-veracruz-supports-entrepreneurship


An agreement meant to boost business and entrepreneurship in the state was signed Monday by Economic Development Secretary Erik Porres Blesa and Labor, Social Protection and Productivity Secretary Marco Antonio Aguilar Yunes.

“The agreement we are signing today before important members of the business community ... and Veracruz politicians has the goal of joining forces and technical and human resources to strengthen and modernize micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, through the implementation of information, training and technical assistance that will increase productivity and competitivity,” Porres Blesa said.

He added that Veracruz is a national economic leader due to its high level of private investment, 40 percent of which is foreign, and its low unemployment levels.

Blesa went on to call the agreement a written record of the 53 billion pesos ($4.1 billion) in investment and the 200,000 jobs created during Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa’s administration in Veracruz. These two numbers, along with “zero” strikes, make the past two years historic for the state, he said.

The agreement outlines strategies that require coordination between the Sedeco, the STPSP and the government and will support local businesses and create jobs. Last Tuesday, the Sedeco opened the call for entries for the 2013 Innovation Incentives Programs, which will be accepting proposals for technology research and development projects until Feb 28. The STPSP, an agency under the state’s Family Development Agency (DIF), offers online employment resources, including job openings, legal advice and arbitration services for labor disputes.

“The more than 53 billion pesos invested by the private sector these two years, (responsible for) more than a third of the 200,000 jobs that have transformed the lives of millions of people, are not a chance occurrence. (They are the result of) the private sector’s confidence today in our state, thanks to solid data and objectives,” Porres Blesa said.

He added that Governor Duarte de Ochoa instructed agencies to work together to offer “dignified and well-paid jobs” to the residents of the state on his first day in office. “Everyone who works as a public servant in this administration, and in particular those who are part of the economic team of Governor Javier Duarte, has worked diligently to make this vision of unity and coordination a reality.”

The secretaries were joined at the event by Deputy Paulina Muguira, Sedeco’s Business Competitivity Director Gerardo Martínez Ríos, National Employment Service Director Iresine Calzada Rivera and Veracruz Work Training Institute Director Ricardo de Larios Lerma.

From US State Department: U.S. Economic Delegation Travels to Mexico

U.S. Economic Delegation Travels to Mexico


A U.S. delegation will travel to Mexico City, Mexico, January 22-24, 2013, to discuss further strengthening the U.S.-Mexico bilateral economic relationship and increasing trade and the creation of jobs in both countries.

The delegation will be led by U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez, U.S. Department of the Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Finance Charles Collyns; U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael Camuñez; and Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs of the Department of Transportation.

The Assistant Secretaries will participate in economic dialogues with cabinet officials from recently elected President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration. In addition to senior government officials, the group will meet with local business leaders and business organizations.

Mexico is Latin America’s second-largest economy, as well as the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest source of imports. Bilateral trade amounted to nearly $460 billion in 2012, more than quadruple what it was at NAFTA’s entry into force in 1994.
For updates, follow:

U.S. Transportation Department on Facebook and Twitter @USDOT

From The Packer: Trade talks with Mexico lead to ‘huge dividend’

Trade talks with Mexico lead to ‘huge dividend’


The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s Tax Administration Service have signed an agreement aimed at easing trade between the countries.
The countries agreed to recognize each other’s Authorized Economic Operator programs — the customs/border protection agency’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and Mexico’s New Certified Companies Scheme — which permit companies enrolled in one program to receive reciprocal benefits from the other, making trade easier, according to a CBP news release.
The agreement is expected to be implemented in two years.
The agreement doesn’t address the tomato trade war between the U.S. and Mexico, but it is a very important step toward streamlining overall trade, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.
If a company’s supply chain is certified by one country to be secure against threats such as narcotics trafficking, bioterrorism or other areas of concern, Jungmeyer said, then the other country will mutually recognize that certification.
“Efforts like this will pay huge dividends in the future, and hopefully allow fresh produce from trusted shippers to sail through the border much quicker,” he said.
The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary government-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen and improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security. The program was created with the understanding that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers and manufacturers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Logistics Management: 34-hour HOS restart rule front and center for ATRI survey -

34-hour HOS restart rule front and center for ATRI survey - Article from Logistics Management


By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 11, 2013
The new Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations are set to take effect around the middle of this year. As reported in LM, Even a casual observer of the trucking market knows that the new rules are decidedly less than popular to say the least.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the new HOS regulations is the 34-hour restart.
As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the new restart policy aims to change provisions in the 34-hour restart, which allows drivers to “reset” their workweek after 34 consecutive hours off duty. Under the proposed changes, drivers would be able to reset their workweek only once every seven days—and the rest period would have to include two spans from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
The government also wants to impose two mandatory 15-minute rest breaks. These provisions, trucking interests say, are arbitrary, capricious and not based on sound science.
Various industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the National Retail Federation, among others, have repeatedly blasted the 34-hour restart.
LM’s John Schulz reported in August 2012 that the ATA, in a brief filed in late July in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said the FMCSA’s latest attempt to rein in drivers’ hours of service (HOS) was based on a “sham” analysis.
And Schulz noted that another sticking point for truckers is that the provision that would require those working a full week to take at least two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the 34-hour “restart” period. Under that provision, drivers can “reset” their workweek by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty. The new rule would allow drivers to use that restart provision only once during any seven-day period.
Carriers and shippers have told LM that this provision serves as a threat to reduce total drive time will impact industry operations.
U.S. Xpress Enterprises Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing John White told us that “the real challenge is the restart is 34 hours and it could be as much as 49 or 50 hours, depending on when a driver finishes his day and if freight is available. Another issue is if the driver has worked his seven days and now cannot start his 34-hour restart until 1 a.m.”
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is fully aware of the challenges this is likely to present for the industry and recently released a second survey to collect data on the impacts that may accrue from changes to the 34-hour restart rule.
ATRI said that this survey seeks input from commercial drivers on the potential operational impacts from these changes. And it added that this survey, coupled with a recent motor carrier one, is part of a larger ATRI study which it said quantifies “real world operational impacts on the trucking industry that may result from these revisions.”
In many cases it stands to reason that the support against the 34-hour restart will be evident in this survey’s findings when they are released. But that remains to be seen when the results are published later in the year. But in the meantime, I am fairly certain we will be reporting on HOS-related items between now and July, when the rules are set to take effect, and beyond.

From The Seattle Times: Sweeping education reform approved in Mexico



MEXICO CITY —
A plan to overhaul Mexico's public education system has been ratified by 18 of the country's 31 states, allowing it to be enacted by President Enrique Pena Nieto, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The law, which is backed by Pena Nieto and was approved by Congress in December, calls for creation of a professional system for hiring, evaluating and promoting teachers without the "discretionary criteria" currently used in a system where teaching positions are often bought or inherited.
"The goal of the reform is a quality education and for this there are two big things (needed): evaluating professional teachers and the body that will evaluate the system," said Sen. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, president of the Senate's Education Commission who confirmed the reform's approval.
The plan, which has multi-party support, will move much of the control of the public education system to the federal government from the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers, led for 23 years by Elba Esther Gordillo. Under the old law, she hires and fires teachers, and she has been accused of using union funds as her personal pocket book.
The overhaul was Pena Nieto's first major proposal since taking office Dec. 1 and is considered a political blow to Gordillo, who has played the role of kingmaker for many Mexican politicians. She was conspicuously absent from the announcement.
Pena Nieto is expected to sign the reform into law in about a week, Romero Hicks said.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From The News (Mexico City): Peña: Federal gov’t is ally of investors

http://www.thenews.com.mx/index.php/home-articulos/4532-pena-federal-gov’t-is-ally-of-investors


BY YVONNE REYES CAMPOS
The News
President Enrique Peña Nieto said Tuesday that his administration will be an ally to business and facilitate investment in new jobs for Mexico.

At the inauguration of a $550-million Volkswagen plant in Silao de la Victoria, Guanajuato, Peña Nieto said that members of his administration are using their experience and knowledge to spur development and create more opportunities in Mexico.

The new Volkswagen plant, Peña Nieto said, will support Volkswagen’s existing plants in Puebla and the U.S.

“Mexico has a big opportunity from a macroeconomic standpoint, and the government is committed to maintaining stability, which will allow us to establish public policy, and most importantly industrial policy for our country’s private sector,” Peña Nieto said.

“The $5 billion Volkswagen has projected (to spend) in North America over the coming years, of which I’m sure Mexico will receive a large part, is what we want to see happen in our country.

“(Mexico needs) more productive investment to generate jobs and development, and wider participation in global markets.”

Peña Nieto went on to add that his administration will open markets where Mexican products have a competitive edge and provide growth opportunities for Mexican entrepreneurs.

The federal government is committed to building the necessary infrastructure to attract more foreign investment, Peña Nieto said.

Major holidays in the US and Mexico for 2013

Below are a list of the of official and commonly celebrated holidays in the US and Mexico.  Delays can occur due to customs and bank closures. Also, shippers and receivers may also observe some or all of these dates.  In order to ensure your shipments are not delayed at the border, please contact your customs broker and double check with the shippers and receivers.

Also, typically over dimensional loads have restrictions during the week prior to Easter, the last 2 weeks in December, and the first week in January.

Please note, the offices of Bill Hay International will be closed on May 25, July 4, September 2, November 28, November 29, December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1, 2014.

     January 1, 2013 (US and Mexico)
Tuesday
New Year's Day

     January 21 (US)
Monday
Martin Luther King's Birthday

      February 4  (Mexico)  
Monday
Mexican Constitution Day (Observed)

     February 18  (US)
Monday
Presidents Day

     March 18  (Mexico)
Monday
Benito Juarez's Birthday (Observed)

     March 28  (Mexico)
Thursday
Holy Thursday

     March 29 (Mexico)
Friday
Good Friday

     May 1  (Mexico)
Wednesday
Mexican Labor Day

     May 6  (Mexico)
Monday
Battle of Puebla (Observed)

     May 10  (Mexico)
Friday
Mother's Day 

     May 27 (US)
Monday
Memorial Day

     July 4 (US)
Thursday
Independence Day

     September 2  (US)
Monday 
Labor Day

     September 16  (Mexico)
Monday
Mexican Independence Day  

     October 14  (US)
Monday 
Columbus Day

     November 11 (US)
Monday 
Veterans Day

     November 18  (Mexico)
Monday
Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (Observed)

     November 28 (US)
Thursday
Thanksgiving Day

     December 25 (US and Mexico)
Wednesday
Christmas Day

     January 1, 2014 (US and Mexico)
Wednesday
New Years Day

Thursday, January 10, 2013

From Truckinginfo.com: Initiative Launched to Speed Cargo Moves at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach - Truckinginfo.com

Initiative Launched to Speed Cargo Moves at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach - Truckinginfo.com

Initiative Launched to Speed Cargo Moves at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach 

PierPass Inc. announced an initiative to reduce the number of transaction problems experienced when trucks pick up or deliver containers at the marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. 

These problems exceptions from normal processes that result in the issuance of "trouble tickets" lead to substantial delays in container movement through the terminals.

About 5% of all transactions at terminals in the United States result in trouble tickets, which on average add about an hour to the "turn time," the amount of time a truck spends at a terminal, according to a 2011 report by the National Cooperative Freight Research Program.

The report found that "exceptions from normal processes [are] a major source of delay and cost. The long 'tails' on the turn time data, in particular, suggest that around 5% of the cases consume much more than the 'normal' time and expense." Most trouble tickets can be prevented through better communications before a truck arrives at the terminal gates, the NCFRP report said.

PierPass has surveyed terminal operators at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports to determine the most common causes of trouble tickets, and found that the situation at the two adjacent ports matches what NCFRP found nationally. 

While trouble tickets are caused by a range of issues, they usually are tied to inaccurate or incomplete information about an import container delivery or an export booking problem. When issued a trouble ticket, the driver typically has to go to a "trouble window" or office to get the issue resolved. This results in delays for customers and truckers and higher costs for terminal operators.

"Trucking companies can avoid most trouble tickets and reduce turn times by checking with the terminals' Web-based systems before coming to the terminal gates," said Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass. "These systems let dispatchers confirm the availability of import containers or the validity of export booking numbers before prematurely sending a truck to the terminal."

PierPass is distributing a fact sheet to trucking companies with tips on trouble-ticket prevention. PierPass today also released a video [www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqxtJGeKNb4&feature=youtu.be] in which stakeholders representing terminal operators, trucking companies and the ports discuss approaches to reducing trouble tickets.

The NCFRP report found that better procedures by trucking companies can reduce trouble tickets. It noted that less experienced drivers and trucking companies that don't regularly serve the ports generate exceptions and receive trouble tickets much more frequently than regular port visitors. Drivers making an average of at least one call per day had only a 3% trouble ticket rate, vs. 7.8% for those making less than one call per week, the report found.

At the APL Terminal in the Port of Los Angeles, the largest group of trouble tickets (34%) in July and August 2012 were issued when truckers arrived to pick up containers that were on hold. Containers can be put on hold for a variety of reasons including U.S. Customs release, agricultural inspection, and unpaid steamship charges or Traffic Mitigation Fees.

The second-largest group (20%) was due to the container number not matching the number on the bill of lading, which can also be checked online before delivering a container. In total, about 5% of all gate transactions - 2,500 in all - ended up at the trouble window. APL says 65% of all trouble tickets during that period could have been resolved before the truck came to the terminal.

In 2011, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, terminals and trucking community published the first comprehensive turn time study at the ports using GPS technology. It found that the median turn time inside the terminals during the period studied was 31 minutes per visit, and that 88% of trucks took less than 2 hours per visit. The study also found:


- The median time trucks spent in queue waiting to get into the gates was 20 minutes and the terminal time 31 minutes, for a total visit time.
- Some have implied that it is typical to wait three hours to get into a terminal. But the study showed that only 9% of queue waits were more than an hour.
- Only 3% of visits took three hours or more, including queue time and terminal time.

PierPass and its member terminal operators continue to offer night gate operations to address container demand and traffic mitigation. 

Terminals are currently offering 55 OffPeak gates across 13 terminals, in addition to 65 daytime gates, for a total of 120 gates per week for cargo pickup and delivery.

From Tijuana EDC: Mexico's Labor Law Amendment Will Increase Competitiveness and Facilitate FDI in the country

http://www.tijuana-mex.com/news/mexicos-labor-law-amendment-will-increase-competitiveness-and-facilitate-fdi-country


Mexico´s Labor Law Amendment Will Increase Competitiveness and Facilitate FDI in the Country

On November 2012, Mexican Congress approved and published a reform to the Federal Labor Law which will positively impact Foreign Direct Investment. This Reform was qualified by Forbes as a Pro-Business reform seeking to increase competitiveness of global companies doing business in Mexico, as well as providing more opportunities for Mexican workers.
The recently approved reform incorporates schemes to the existing Mexican labor law such as, labor subcontracting (outsourcing), seasonal hiring, and hourly jobs; most of these familiar to U.S. companies. This amendment aims to increase productivity and create high value jobs in Mexico, as well as to foster maximum employment, creating opportunities for women and students, providing flexibility to firms in employment relationships, and allowing hiring part time positions and seasonal jobs.
With such changes, Mexico will shorten the gap with China in the labor market. While China increases its labor costs, Mexico becomes more flexible while maintaining a stable economy. Mexico’s goal in the global market is to scale around 20 positions in labor market efficiency international indexes, and 3 positions in terms of global competitiveness.
In the following guideline provided by leading consultant firms, authorities in labor issues, and members of the Tijuana EDC, we have summarized the key changes to the reform.
We invite you to consult reference documents that provide a comprehensive analysis of the reform at no cost by experts on the field.
1.     Labor and Social Equilibrium. Labor standards are intended to facilitate the creation of new job opportunities while avoiding all forms of discrimination, ensuring access to social security, a rewarding salary, continuous training, and optimum safety and health conditions. The concepts of aggression and sexual harassment have been added to reinforce companies’ social responsibility.
2.     Expansion of labor relations.  Includes the framework that regulates models such as subcontracting, seasonal hiring, that includes modalities of trial hiring and initial training contract, as well as establishes guidelines that shall be met to recruit, select and hire Mexican workers to provide services abroad.
3.     Working Conditions.  The Law  ensures compliance with all applicable safety, health, and environmental regulations. It also states that it is mandatory for the employer to publish the complete text of the collective contract in effect at the company in a visible place. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

From El Paso Times: Juarez enters 2013 with sense of safety

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_22295403/ju-225-rez-enters-13-sense-safety?source=most_viewed


2012 ended differently for Juárez than in the previous four years.

Once an unsafe city because of the drug war and violence, Juárez has transformed into a place where people can walk again in the streets without feeling they will become victims of crimes.

"You just don't feel the heaviness of death that it felt in the last years," said Marcela Hernández, a Juárez maquiladora accountant who until 2012 left her house only to go to work or do "essential" things.

For many others like Hernández, Juárez has begun to feel safer.

In 2012, there was a dramatic decrease in homicides that was reflected in the reopening of businesses and the establishing of new ones. Foreign investments returned to the maquiladora industry and more jobs opened, giving work to thousands of people.

Although tougher policing had much to do with crime reduction and the sense of security for many Juarenses, there is corruption within the police that Juárez has yet to address, experts said.

The city still has a long way to go to heal from the violence and return to the way that it was before the narco war, experts said.

In 2012, the violence in Juárez dropped dramatically, prompting authorities to hold up the city as a symbol of progress.

"The reality is that Juárez has normal indexes of a good city," Juárez Mayor Héctor Murguía said in a written statement last month.

He said that Juárez broke the city's record with only 28 homicides in November, the fewest violent deaths in a month since last January, according to Chihuahua attorney general's office.

By the first weekend of December, when President Enrique Peña Nieto took office, there were no homicides, something that wasn't seen in the past five years, he said.

"I feel very proud of all of the efforts made because Ciudad Juárez, in less of two years, has reduced the violence that occurred over 10 years in places such as Palermo, Medellín, Chicago and New York," Murguía added.

According to statistics from the attorney general's office, homicides have declined drastically since 2010. That year there were 3,084 homicides; in 2011 there were 1,940. In 2012, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 26, the count had dropped to 746.

Kidnappings and extortions have also declined, authorities said.

From Oct. 1, 2010, to Nov. 26, 2012, 328 people were arrested and 79 gangs were dismantled, according to statistics from the attorney general's office website.

Despite a decline in homicides and other crimes, the U.S. government in November warned again its citizens about the risks of traveling to Juárez.

In a new travel warning, the U.S. Department of State described Juárez and Chihuahua City as places of "special concern" and cautioned against nonessential travel to the area.

Chihuahua Gov. César Duarte responded to the warning, considering it a "tourist strategy from Texas."

"It is part of the promotion that Texas is doing to disqualify its competitors, like Chihuahua in this case," he said.

Economic growth

Juárez economic growth revived in 2012, mostly as a result of the reduction of crime, according to the National Chamber of Commerce, or Canaco.

Between 2008 and 2010 1,304 businesses were closed, abandoned or burned out when they didn't pay the cuota, or the extortion, according to statistics from the Mexican Social Security Institute.

In 2011, 346 businesses closed down, the data show.

But in 2012, especially by the first half of the year, there was a "boom" of businesses in the city, said Guillermo Gutiérrez, Canaco's executive director.

"Some business owners that left the city to El Paso returned to Juárez to reopen their businesses or new ones. Others that had changed their location to a safer one have returned to busy avenues to open new businesses," he said. "People had trust again in Juárez."

Gutiérrez said that dozens of restaurants, bars, cafés and other businesses opened along major avenues such as Gómez Morin, Tomás Fernandez and Paseo Triunfo de la República and in the Pronaf area.

Also, he added, "we now have reports of 100 percent of occupancy in shopping malls."

He did not have statistics immediately available on how many businesses opened in 2012, but he said that the membership of Canaco grew to 12,000 business owners from fewer than 8,500 in 2010.

Also, about 500 neighborhood groceries stores, which were more affected by extortions and armed robberies, reopened, according to Canaco.

The maquiladora industry, which accounts for up to 60 percent of jobs in the city, had a positive year, according to the Juárez Maquiladora Association, or AMAC.

Statistics from AMAC say that by the end of November there were 215,331 maquila jobs, up from 193,416 a year earlier.

"This is a clear sign of continuous growth and economic recovery in our city," AMAC President José Luis Armen dáriz Bailón said recently.

AMAC expects that there will be more foreign investments in the city, and with that, more jobs.
In November, Wistron Mexico company in Juárez announced the expansion of its operations in cellphone manufacturing. The company, based in Taiwan, did not reveal the brand or the number of cellphones that it will produce.

The announcement said 1,000 employees were hired in December. An additional 2,000 people are to be employed in the first months of 2013.

Wistron, which has operated since 1998, employs about 5,500 people.'

Feeling safe

Better crime investigations and prosecution of criminals as a result of an improved coordination of local, state and federal police corporations have contributed to the reduction of crime and the sense of safety in Juárez, according to some experts.

Psychotherapist Hugo Almada, a member of the security panel Todos Somos Juárez program, said the withdrawal of the army and federal police by the end of 2011 also played a major role in people feeling safe in 2012.

The program, made up of local officials and civilians, was established in 2010 by former President Felipe Calderón's government to reconstruct Juárez's social fabric.

"There is no doubt that Juárez is much better now. There is a sense of safety, and we have to recognize police for that. However, that same police, especially the local police, still has corruption problems," added Almada, who also teaches at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez.

In November, the security panel documented more than 20 citizens' complaints against Juárez police. All of the complaints were related to misuse of authority, and at least four of them were cases in which police allegedly planted drugs or guns to innocent people as a way to try to extort them.

Recently, the Chihuahua attorney general's office announced the arrest of three Juárez police officers on charges of torture, aggravated sexual abuse and misuse of authority, all in connection with the alleged mistreatment of two men in their custody March 6.

One of the police officers allegedly forced one of the men to swallow several bullets, according to state officials.

"Now people are more afraid of police than of criminals," said Leticia Chavarría, a member of the security panel of the Civilian Medical Committee, a nongovernmental organization established four years by doctors affected by kidnappings.

The psychotherapist Almada said that poor people have been the most affected by abuses of police.

"I try not to get in their path," said Arcelia Rodriguez, of Morelos neighborhood, who lives in a one-bedroom house with two of her adult children and grandchild.

The 40-year-old said that in April local police beat her brother for no reason and in the summer her son was almost arrested for not having identification with him.

Juárez police Chief Julián Leyzaola admitted in an interview last month that officers were abusing their power. "I have to recognize that I have a police force that needs to be watched all the time."

"We had fired 800 officers that were not meeting the professional standards. And when I said that, I'm talking not just about officers who were working with organized crime. I'm also talking about corrupt officers that were stealing people's money and belongings or were just arresting people for misdemeanors."

He also said police have received an average of five to seven complaints alleging arbitrary or illegal detentions.

"What did I do? I reviewed all the proceedings and I realized that the officers were abusing their power and we started addressing the problems," he said.

Although Juárez addressed its main problem of poor security this year, it still lacked of ways to heal from violence, experts said.

"You have to remember that Juárez lived a war, and Juarenses are suffering from post-traumatic stress caused by that war," Chavarría said.

Almada added that it will take years for victims and their families to heal from the emotional scars left by violence and for the rest of the public to re-establish trust in police and in authorities to guarantee human rights.

"Of course, there is less fear today than in the past, but stress and tension continues for victims of violence and some members of the general population," he said.

Experts said that government authorities have forgotten not only to put attention and resources in programs to help victims of violence heal, but also to restore the culture of nonviolence in the city.

"I'm optimistic that will happen," Almada said. "If we continue advancing in the reduction of crime and violence in 2013, we can advance in reconstructing the social fabric in the near future."

Lorena Figueroa may be reached at lfigueroa@elpasotimes.com; 546-6129.

Friday, January 4, 2013

From Journal of Commerce: NAFTA Surface Trade Rises 7.6%

http://www.joc.com/international-trade-news/trade-data/united-states/nafta-surface-trade-rises-76-percent_20130104.html

Surface transportation trade between the U.S. and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners, Canada and Mexico, jumped 7.6 percent year-over-year in October and 9.8 percent from September.

Adjusted for inflation and exchange rates, trade in October hit $61.7 billion, in 2004 dollars, according to the Transportation Department. The value of U.S. surface trade with Mexico and Canada was up 38.9 percent from October 2009, shortly after the end of the last recession.
U.S.-Canada trade in October rose 4.3 percent year-over-year to $48.4 billion, while U.S. trade with Mexico increased 13.1 percent to $36.9 billion in the same period. In October, 86.5 percent of U.S. trade by value with its neighbors moved via land, 9.5 percent by ship and 4 percent by air.
Texas continued to lead the states in surface trade with Mexico in October, with the value of commodities transported over the border rising 20 percent year-over-year to $13.6 billion. Michigan continued to lead the U.S. in surface trade with Canada, as the value of goods over the border with its northern neighbor rose 18.5 percent to $6.8 billion.
The top U.S. trade commodity with Canada was vehicles, valued at $9.8 billion. Electrical machinery, valued at $8.2 billion, was the top transport commodity between U.S. and Mexico.

Dia de Los Santos Reyes 2013

As always, Bill Hay International goes all out on  Dia de Los Santos Reyes, or Day of the Epiphany. This year though, we got an early start Friday since January 6 fell on a Sunday.

Below is a photo of this year's Rosca de Reyes, a pastry similar to the King Cake found in New Orleans. 

 Virginia's piece had the hidden  plastic figurines representing the Baby Jesus, so she has to throw us all a party on February 2  (Dia de la Candelaria / Candlemas Day).




Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bond Changes for 3rd Party Intermediaries

With the passage of the Highway R-Authorization Bill in 2012, some changes are up ahead for 3rd Party Intermediaries. Most notable, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will oversee the amount increase in the bond brokers are needed to carry.  The bond amount will increase from $10,000 to $75,000 for brokers and forwarders.  The FMCSA has scheduled the effective date for October 1, 2013 one year from the date of enactment of the law.

The bond is there to protect carriers when a broker fails to pay them by filing against the bond in place.

Even though this requirement is not until October, Bill Hay International has a TIA Performance Certified $75,000 bond in place.

If you would like to learn more about our bond or the FMCSA bonding requirements, please feel free to contact our office.