Mexico: Port Performance Study

July 26, 2019

 |  Insights

A number of factors have been influencing Mexico trade trends. The US, Mexico, and Canada are working on a new trade agreement, the US-China trade war is causing companies to consider sourcing from alternate countries, and the US threatened to close its US-Mexico border in March 2019. 

Shippers may be considering increasing their imports and exports through Mexico and looking into ways to mitigate risk for their Mexican shipments. In light of the recent activity around Mexico, we took the opportunity to review its port performance.

CargoSmart’s Global Voyage Vessel Monitoring Center (GVVMC) focused the study on the performance of the top five container ports in Mexico. We reviewed Ensenada, Lazaro Cardenas, and Manzanillo on the Pacific coast and Altamira and Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico coast. We reviewed the five ports’ data from January to June 2019 to analyze vessel delays.


Longest Vessel Delays Were at Altamira

We analyzed the vessel arrival and departure delays at the five ports. The trends of the arrival and departure delays were similar. Overall, we found that Altamira had the longest average vessel arrival and departure delays for the first half of the year.

Altamira port encountered the longest delays in January, with average arrival and average departure delays being the longest of the five ports over the six months. At Altamira, average vessel arrival delays were 31.1 hours and average departure delays were 30.4 hours in January 2019. Even though the delays have been decreasing since February, the average delays remained over 20 hours through May. 

Veracruz, which had a similar number of vessel arrivals as Altamira, had a shorter average arrival delay of 23.7 hours and a shorter average departure delay of 23.7 hours in January 2019. 

Average vessel arrival delays at the top five Mexico ports from January 2019 to June 2019


Vessel Delays Climbed at Ensenada

While delays decreased at Altamira over the six months, delays at Ensenada increased. Ensenada had the shortest average vessel arrival and departure delays from January to March, ranging from 2.5 hours to 10.5 hours. Delays climbed from April to June. In June, the average vessel arrival and departure delays reached over 15 hours, which was the longest among the five ports.

The busiest port in Mexico, Manzanillo, had the second best performance among the five ports in terms of vessel arrival and departure delays. Over the span of the six months, its average arrival delay was 12.1 hours and its average departure delay was 13.1 hours. In addition, in April and May, Manzanillo had the shortest average vessel arrival and departure delays, of less than 10 hours, among the ports. 

Average vessel departure delays at the top five Mexico ports from January 2019 to June 2019


Mexico Ports Closer to the US Border Had Greater Performance Fluctuations

The two ports closest to the US border, Ensenada on the US West Coast and Altamira on the US East Coast, experienced the greatest fluctuations in performance from January to June 2019. On the West Coast, while vessel arrival and departure delays grew shorter over the six months at Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo, the delays increased at Ensenada. On the East Coast, both Altamira and Veracruz experienced shorter delays as the months progressed. However, Altamira saw its delays drop by over 22 hours compared to Veracruz’ improvement of under 13 hours.

Read the full report. This study was part of the July issue of CargoSmart’s Innovating newsletter. Download the July newsletter to see the number of vessel arrivals and monthly average berth times at the Mexico ports and to read the full newsletter.

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