The New Port of Veracruz welcomed its first ship on Monday, the Maltese-flagged container carrier White Shark, in what was heralded as “a great day for the country.”
The vessel, which had come from northern Europe, dropped off and picked up containers at the new specialized container terminal (TEC) built by Hutchison Ports-Icave.
Jorge Lecona, Hutchison-Icave director for Mexico and Latin America, told reporters that the new terminal offers cutting-edge technology including blockchain and artificial intelligence.
“This is a great day for the country, for Veracruz and for Hutchison Ports, the entire port community, importers and exporters,” he said. “We deserve to have infrastructure as modern as we have today.”
The TEC is the first of a series of expansions to the Port of Veracruz, described as the most important maritime infrastructure project in Mexico in recent years.
With an investment of around 31 billion pesos (US $1.6 million), of which 80% came from private investors, the capacity of the port has nearly tripled from around 24 million tonnes of cargo to 66 million.
The next phase of the expansion project will bump capacity to more than 95 million tonnes. The new port occupies 1,113 hectares on land and sea, more than double the previous 554 hectares.
Veracruz port director Miguel Ángel Yánez Monroy said that a liquids terminal will open later this year, which will be used for imports of hydrocarbons. Agricultural and mineral terminals will open in the first quarter of 2020.
According to the general manager of Corporativo Enciso, a customs agent, the improvements to the port will allow imports to be shipped directly to Mexico from northern Europe rather than to ports in the United States and then on to Mexico by land.
Óscar Enciso Villarreal said the new port will create an industrial corridor that will create as many 150,000 jobs by 2024.
“We’re going to achieve a goal we’ve had for many years, which was to bring in the huge ships that didn’t used to come, and we’re also going to gain ground against all the cargo that goes to U.S. ports like Houston and crosses the border into Mexico,” he said.
“With the inauguration of this new specialized terminal, which is considered the biggest logistics project in the country, today is the day to take back the cargo that naturally belongs to the Port of Veracruz.”