What is the importance of Mexico for TIBA's global strategy?
Mexico was the first country outside of Europe where TIBA opened an office. It was a strategic decision at that time to expand into the Americas and especially Mexico, where we saw huge potential. Today, we continue to see huge potential in Mexico. Within TIBA, Mexico is a key country where we continue to invest. It is part of our fundamental structure for the future.
How would you assess the process of automation in the logistics sector?
When the workforce is expensive then automation makes a great deal of sense. When we look at more developed markets in Europe or the US, automation makes more sense, where certain procedures are more standardized and simple. We invest heavily in technology in looking for ways to automate as many processes as possible to make our business more efficient. To automate the entire process in some countries is quite a challenge, and some of the countries where TIBA is present will not be completely automated in the near future.
What is the main issue foreign companies face when moving goods in and out of Mexico and how does TIBA help in this area?
Customs has always been a challenge in Mexico and continues to be for many companies. There are certain programs that facilitate the import and export of goods, especially for larger companies such as Ford, Volkswagen, and others, which have certain preferences and benefits that they can apply for with Mexico to facilitate their imports and exports. There is, however, an entire separate group of companies, namely SMEs, which are truly the engine of the economies in the world. They do not have access to some of these programs so we focus a large part of our energy on providing our own solutions to these companies, which starts from studying their real requirements, such as where they import from, what they are doing with their goods, and who they sell to. We try to help them design the logistical and customs compliance requirements with our large and professional team within TIBA, which we continuously train to keep it up-to-date in tendencies, new laws, the structure of customs, and so on.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Mexican infrastructure?
There are certainly some areas of opportunity within Mexico. The road infrastructure is certainly not homogeneous; some of the roads are somewhat dangerous and do not provide the quality they could. This causes problems with trucks and the efficiency of the logistics chain. The Mexican government is investing in the infrastructure though there is still a long way to go to be able to reach the standards of some of the countries around the world. At the end of the day, Mexico is a manufacturing hub with access to the east, west, north, and south and the largest economies such as the US, Central America, and the Caribbean. It can produce not just manufactured goods but perishable goods as well. For Mexico to be this manufacturing and merchandising production hub, it needs to have an extremely efficient logistics solution in place, and part of that is its infrastructure.
How are the NAFTA renegotiations affecting TIBA's operations so far?
It has affected us more through exchange rate matters because this affects consumer goods in Mexico. The volatility in the exchange rate definitely creates some confusion and uncertainty in the market for us.
What is your outlook for 2018 for TIBA?
2018 looks to be a fantastic year. We are extremely positive about many things that we see going on in Mexico. One of the major developments within TIBA is the project division for renewable energies, where we have a team of experts that knows the solar panel business extremely well. For 2018 we see a large amount of investment into wind and solar energy, and TIBA has some great professionals providing solutions for each of these sectors.