Mexican import stand-off turns nasty

Mexican import stand-off turns nasty
Published: 30 July 2004

Refused entry to the port of Tampico following a court order stating that the MV Mary Nour will block the channel and thus impede Cemex cement distribution channels, the ships agents then gained permission for the ship to dock in the port of  Altamira, a private port managed by the Group OTM, located 14 nautical miles from Port of Tampico. Notice of Readiness was accepted and the vessel berthed alongside Saturday 24th afternoon. Free pratique was done successfully and the ship ready for discharge.

Since then however, the Chairman of the Chamber of Cement has filed a case against the receivers, as well as the private port concessionaires OTM and the ships agent. Apparently all are conspiracy to smuggle illegally into Mexico the full cargo of cement. Criminal proceedings are now in process.

According to a spokesman for the ships owners, CTI, the Mexican customs department has seized the cargo onboard and deemed it contraband material. CDM the receivers will be challenging the decision and claim that they have already paid the customs duty and the VAT on the cargo, and received the official paper deeming the cargo as being inside Mexico legally. A  stand-off now ensues with the ship now idle in Altamira port. The ship has also reportedly  been refused fresh water and basic provisions but in a protest to the ships Panamanian authorities and emergency delivery of 40t has now been allowed.

Local newspapers are now picking up on the story asking : What about free competition?  Who determines what products enter our country?  What interference has the Secretary of Economy in this?  Why one resorts to illegal practices to discredit the origin of cement?  Why so many procedures or obstacles for the imports? Why stories are invented whether the cement is contaminated or even radioactive without being tested? Even though it is recognized that each company has the legal rights to defend itself before certain eventualities, why has Cemex become the main defender of the cement producers? Where has the free entrepreneurial spirit and free competition gone, Senores (reports Mexico.com).

Meanwhile Canacem demands respect

According to the National Cement Industry Chamber (Canacem), imports of cement must strictly adhere to the law and fulfill international standards in order for them to be sold in Mexico. Osmín Rendón Castillo, leader of cement industrialists, stated that Tamaulipas port authorities must prevent Proveedora de Comercio from importing the 27,000t of Russian cement that it plans on bringing into the country. Rendón Castillo explained that the firm in question lacks import licenses. He added that he was not against Proveedora importing cement, but rather demanded that current norms be fulfilled:"One should respect laws in terms of foreign commerce," stated Rendón. The Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) warned that importing Russian cement would have a negative effect on the domestic economy, jeopardising productivity.  "In order to prevent national cement production from being threatened, and thus the sector’s jobs, the CTM plans to protest demonstration at Tamaulipas port," stated the syndicate.