Competitiveness achieved by companies is fundamental for the development of foreign trade in Mexico: AAAPUMAC
Competitiveness and modernization are two key topics for foreign trade and each of its members takes direct responsibility of them. Now more than ever, coordination is fundamental to be more efficient in commercial operations. Competitiveness in the operation of a port is defined by the efficiency of the company’s management, as well as the infrastructure, equipment, connectivity, geographic location and market relations it has with the city it is located.
Manzanillo, Colima, a very competitive port
“Manzanillo is a small and highly efficient port; our unload vessel rate has great performance and the operations are successful, but we can be much more productive. We are a highly productive port in spite the deficiencies of installations and services, as well as the necessity of modern roadways.
The customs agent guild, led by our Confederation, is the most advanced and sophisticated guild in electronic matters and this has given the authorities the opportunity to start investing in this area. All this thanks to customs agents, which soon identified future competition and instead of demonstrating and arguing, decided to be proactive, efficient and necessary for the authority. We have a strong system, with very important information and servers. Besides, we have always worked closely with the Tax Administration Service (SAT in Spanish), always moving forward; I do not think there is another sector in Mexico with the level of participation as that of customs agents.”
AAAPUMAC (Customs Agency Association of the Port of Manzanillo Colima) has always been proactive and works in a collaborative and efficient manner, because of this, whenever a new Customs Administrator arrives to the port and is distrustful, the Association proves itself trustworthy by displaying what we are, our work and what we want to achieve regarding office efficiency. We always excel.
Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), certainty for the logistic chain
It is very important to have the certification for Authorized Economic Operator, it is an arduous job which must be maintained; we must make daily improvements to our operation.
“We must be attractive as a country and foreign trade is very important to achieve this. Our federal government, through the Tax Administration Service (SAT), is elaborating new schemes emanated from the World Customs Organization (WCO). Being an Authorized Economic Operator gives certainty to the logistics chain. As a result, they look for easier procedures such as non-intrusive revisions and the reduction of customs examinations.”
The moment customs agents, importers and exporters increase the degree of trust that the authority invest upon us, they will reduce the inspection rates. It does not mean they will stop the inspections, but they will schedule them for later stages which favors the logistic chain. This will reduce the time and the necessity of establishing well defined arrival times of merchandise to be integrated into the productive chain. Therefore, the model of Authorized Economic Operators gains pivotal relevance in the customs sector and because it encompasses warehouses, transportation, exporters and importers, they must not only be a security element, but also of competitiveness. We, as customs agents, have the commitment to foster this, to be receptors and approach our customers and tell them about the benefits granted by this new model of certified enterprises, formerly known as NEEC and now standardized to the international AEO model. This is a competitiveness factor for all customs agents and we must accept our role as foreign trade promoters to guarantee it through a secure logistic chain.
CAAAREM and AAAPUMAC, key for Competitiveness
Oscar Benavides Carrillo
Undoubtedly, the competitiveness progress in the sector plays a very important role. Therefore, the Customs Agency Association of the Port of Manzanillo Colima (AAAPUMAC) and the Confederation of Associations of Customs Agents of the Mexican Republic (CAAAREM) organize awareness conferences to inform about: new schemes and forms of facilitation as well as agreements with advising companies that can help you make an easier transition from a customs agency to certified agency on security and competitiveness.
To be competitive at the customs agent level you need to adopt the new model for secure logistic chains. A huge campaign has been made to advertise it and there is work made in different forums, conventions and some announcements in the guild. I believe that every customs agent must value this type of schemes and decide whether they want to stay the same or move ahead in the foreign trade sector. By comparison, there is the responsibility as a group to move ahead because the authorities have encouraged us to do it. Each custom agent is responsible for obtaining this type of certification.
Some customs agents are concerned about the possibility of not obtaining the certification as Authorized Economic Operators, which creates unrest, especially considering that there is a wait time of two years to apply for the certification again in case the results are not satisfactory.
Regarding this situation, CAAAREM has established a model denominated Authorized Logistical Operator (ALO), which is a private accreditation given by the Confederation which assimilates the accreditation by the Tax Administration Service. This certification is friendlier and has staff advising the company. Once the agency is accredited as AOL, it is advisable to apply for the AEO accreditation given by SAT.
It works as a previous examination to evaluate the customs agent. It is very friendly because they send staff to help identify weaknesses, strengths, threats and opportunities present in the organization. This process fortifies the infrastructure and helps to obtain the SAT certification for competitiveness.
Training is fundamental, not only for operative staff, but also for the administrative, financial and fiscal departments, because every investment will transform into competitiveness and this will improve our companies and customers. Training is an excellent investment because the companies encourage the staff development and their growth in the company which creates good customer service.
COMPETITIVENESS IN THE PORT COMMUNITY
When I say Logistic Chain, I am talking about all the links involved in each of the operations, including the authorities. They are starting a modernization stage, looking for better ways to facilitate process without jeopardizing security.
Regarding security, we must realize that the port is complying with the facilitation and control methods set by the World Customs Organization to every member country, Mexico included. The organization talks about control but also about facilitation; for instance, we know that at the Port of Manzanillo, the one in Lazaro Cardenas, or at any airport or customs office in Mexico a 100% of the merchandise is not inspected, at least not a physical inspection. There is in fact a non-intrusive inspection in a 100% of the import and export containers leaving Manzanillo, using new equipment that scan the contents. That is why the normal procedure performed by the authorities it is enough to be confident in their actions regarding security.
GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR FACILITATION
We face many challenges and opportunities, Manzanillo has always been a leader when implementing and searching for new schemes to make processes easier. For instance, customs operating in a 24/7 schedule and dispatching origin inspections which coordinate the Customs Office, customs agents, the Port Authority Administration (API), terminals, hauling services and the importer, accomplishing customs dispatch in hours.
Manzanillo has a lot to say about this topic, especially when the reduction of spaces available in the port, compared to other places, makes us more competitive. We could adopt schemes from different countries, particularly those that do not pose a national threat; for example, tags with commercial information that are transferred to the selling point, not necessarily at the moment of its importation, would facilitate trade by reducing time and costs.
Undoubtedly, these are outstanding topics. Other countries allow to pay taxes even 10 days after, depending the level of confidence they have in the exporter. They are certified companies with a high level of confidence and the authorities allow the payment after ten days of the import/export transaction. In this case, the customs declaration is received, then the cargo and finally the exporter can pay the amount indicated in the customs declaration through a customs agent. This procedure improves the export/import flow because one of the obstacles we face when importing is dealing with financial resources. Given this advantage, the importer receives the cargo, delivers it and collects the payment. These are competitive ideas that our customs offices can adopt following strict guidelines. There are also simpler ideas we could use and we have the means to implement them, but there are necessary adjustments that need to be done in the legislation and manuals, and the authorities need time for that.”