Borderlands: Mexico tough for foreign firms; GM, union spar on Texas plant closure

Survey: Mexico is the 13th most complex country for business 

A reliance on older technology and pen-and-paper documents are among the reasons Mexico landed on the list of most complex countries to do business in the world, according to an annual survey by TMF Group.

The Global Business Complexity Index survey, which compares key administrative and compliance demands across 77 jurisdictions worldwide, ranked Mexico as the 13th most complex place to do business globally.

“Due to the quantity and non-automated process, for a foreign entity, [Mexico] can be a little complex as a consequence of some permissions and procedures,” the TMF survey stated.

Larry Harding, head of North America for business at TMF Group, said in the past several years certain jurisdictions have improved their technology infrastructure, while other countries have lagged.

“In terms of the rules, regulations and the processes from the governmental perspective, many jurisdictions have been incredibly paper-oriented for years and years beyond what any businesses or governmental agencies would typically expect,” Harding said. “In the last handful of years, that gap is decreasing in certain countries. Others are lagging behind, still very paper-oriented, very administrative-oriented. Mexico falls into that latter category currently.”

TMF Group is a multinational professional services firm based in Amsterdam, providing accounting, tax, HR and payroll services to international businesses. The company has around 7,000 employees in 80 countries.

Harding added that Mexico has improved its business climate in recent years, and “in the near term, they’ll begin to catch up on some of the technology ends to their country peers, and then close the gap a little that way.”

Indonesia ranked as the most complex country to do business in, according to the 2020 The Global Business Complexity Index.

Five of the 10 most complex places are countries in South America, with Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. Greece, which occupied the top spot last year, made some improvements and is ranked fifth most complex this year.

On the other end of the scale, the 10 least complex jurisdictions to set up or operate in are found in the Western hemisphere, with Curacao leading the way, followed by the United States, Jamaica, Denmark and the British Virgin Islands.

The top 10 least complex countries for business:

  1. Curacao
  2. United States
  3. Jamaica
  4. Denmark
  5. British Virgin Islands
  6. The Netherlands
  7. El Salvador
  8. Ireland
  9. Cayman Islands
  10. Mauritius

Harding said the coronavirus has created a lot of uncertainty for countries, but foreign interests in Mexico had been on an “uptick” in recent months before the pandemic. Harding said he sees that continuing once the pandemic eventually winds down.

“There’s a perceived market opportunity and growth opportunity that’s driving more of a pipeline of businesses expanding into Mexico as a region,” Harding said.

The top 13 most complex countries for business:

  1. Indonesia
  2. Brazil
  3. Argentina
  4. Bolivia
  5. Greece
  6. Mainland China
  7. Nicaragua
  8. Colombia
  9. Malaysia
  10. Ecuador
  11. Turkey
  12. France
  13. Mexico

Animal skulls, bones, skin found in clothing shipment from Africa

A shipment of clothing arriving from Africa actually contained animal skulls, bones and other prohibited items, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in Houston.

Officials in Houston found prohibited animal bones in a shipment from Nigeria. (Photo: CBP)

CBP agriculture specialists working at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport cargo facility on Wednesday were examining a shipment from Nigeria when they discovered more than 100 prohibited items. 

These included a dog’s skull, a sheep’s skull, various other bones, skins from an unknown mammal, cowrie shells, tubs of a black paste that could be soap made from animal ingredients, 72 pounds of fresh wood chips, 33 pounds of melon seeds, four other types of seeds for planting, and a melon, authorities said.

“This interception is indicative of our commitment to protecting the nation’s agriculture industry from the introduction of harmful exotic pests and foreign animal and plant diseases,” said CBP Port Director Shawn Polley.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the skulls, bones, skins and shells. CBP officials destroyed the other items.

Laredo customs broker expands into larger facility

Freight Dispatch Service Agency recently signed a full-building lease at the I-35 Logistics Center in Laredo, Texas. 

The new lease is for the building’s entire 131,718-square-foot space. Freight Dispatch Service Agency, which took occupancy June 1, is a Laredo-based customs broker with warehousing and distribution services for clients in various industries, including automotive manufacturers.

The I-35 Logistics Center is a bulk distribution warehouse space located along Interstate 35, around 10 miles from the United States-Mexico border. It includes 4,000 square feet of ground-floor office space, a 1,000-square-foot, two-story warehouse office, 32-foot clear heights, 46 dock-high doors, two ramped doors, parking for 73 trailers and 60 employee parking spaces.

UAW and General Motors disagree on Texas plant closure

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union and General Motors Co. differ on whether an SUV assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, should be closed temporarily for the safety of its 4,000 workers.

Officials of a local UAW chapter in Arlington asked General Motors (GM) last Monday to close the plant as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly across Texas.

“Due to the most recent data on the COVID-19 outbreak, the bargaining committee has asked General Motors to shut down Arlington Assembly until the curve is flattened for the benefit and well-being of our members,” UAW Local 276 posted on its website. “Every day we are setting new records in the number of people who are testing positive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Officials at GM, which restarted the Arlington plant on May 18, said they have instituted safety protocols and “there’s no need to interrupt production.”

“We’re aware of the request and haven’t made changes to our production plans because we have protocols designed to keep the virus out of the facility and have multiple layers of protection in the plant to prevent a spread of the virus,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More stories

USMCA enters into force amid coronavirus-related uncertainties

Tech company uses quantum computers to help shipping and trucking industries

More than 100 maquiladoras get back to work in Nogales, Mexico