Cement imports - fortress Mexico breached

Cement imports - fortress Mexico breached
Published: 25 October 2013

The first industrial scale consignment of bagged cement in 25 years has successfully been imported to Mexico, marking a unique milestone in the recent history of the Mexican building materials sector.

Shipunloading at Puerto Progreso, Mexico

On 9 October, the vessel M/N Atenea docked at Puerto Progreso on the Yucatan Peninsula with a cargo of 2850t of bagged cement, according to a spokeperson for Comercio para el Desarrollo Mexicano del Sureste SA de CV (CDMS), the import company leading the initiative.

Although the cargo was subjected to a 48-hour delay due to customs clearance procedures, the first truck successfully left customs at 9:47pm on Friday, 11 October, transporting the cargo from the port directly to the CDMS warehouse located in the city of Mérida. In spite of the correct cargo manifest and export documentation, the Mexican customs authority insisted on inspecting every truck carrying cement, resulting in further severe delays, according to CDMS.

Although modest, this shipment represents the first successful attempt by a new industry player to import cement into Mexico for over two decades.

Cement prices are reported to have fallen by up to 10 per cent in the vicinity of Mérida where CDMS has entered the market with its new brand. This is good news for Mexican consumers who will benefit from increased competition in a market traditionally viewed as monopolistic.

However, the Mexican cement market has long been fiercely protected by the domestic cement industry, as demonstrated by the Mary Nour saga in 2004, which resulted in Mexico’s antitrust agency fining Cemex MXP10.2m for allegedly blocking a 26,000t cement shipment from Russia also by CDMS. Whether continued imports will be successful remains to be seen.