RAFAEL FERNANDO MARÍN MOLLINEDO

Mexico 2020 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

With the development plan of Isthmus of Tehuantepec in hand, Mexico will bring about greater economic development in the country's often-overlooked south.

Rafael Fernando Marín Mollinedo
BIOGRAPHY

Rafael Fernando Marín Mollinedo is an economist who has collaborated with diverse institutions in the public sector throughout his career. He was previously director general of urban services for the Mexico City government, and in 2012, he was named coordinator in the state of Quintana Roo for the presidential campaign. He was appointed again for this role in the 2018 presidential campaign.

This corridor will represent 1.6% of the country's GDP after it is built. How is the project going to achieve that?
This is an ambitious project that will trigger the development of Mexico's south and southeast. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador's government wants to develop the south to equalize development throughout the country. The south is rich in natural resources but has been abandoned by the federal governments for many years. The refinery in Dos Bocas, the Maya train, and this corridor are the three big projects to develop the area. We want to seize the strategic location of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to develop the region. We have located land where we can launch a bidding process to create development parks, with some tax incentives to be granted to developers. Right now, the commercial rivalry between the US and China could help us attract investment, as there are many companies seeking locations outside of China because of the import tariffs that the US government has imposed. In our view, Mexico has excellent connectivity. We are just two sailing days away from the US' East Coast, and we are closer to China than the Panama Canal. This position can bring opportunities to create a new maritime route for trade, such as a trade route between China and the US' eastern seaboard. Our plan is to modernize the logistics infrastructure to attract companies to come and invest in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. We will connect all the infrastructure built with the Maya Train to the new Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco. It will be also connected with the Guatemalan border because the old railway tracks there are abandoned and cannot be used. Therefore, the government's plan is to refurbish much of that infrastructure to develop the logistics sector. We also see the potential for companies that want to establish themselves in the energy sector here. It is important to note the good quality of work that the people from Oaxaca and Veracruz offer. Here, there are natural resources and experienced workers; all we need is to unite the two ports via rail in order to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts.

What investment will this project require?
Without taking into account the investment that in the development parks, we project that the investment of the public sector will amount to MXN100 billion over six years. In terms of infrastructure, the public sector will invest MXN150 billion to develop oil pipelines in the corridor. Meanwhile, in the parks, we expect a MXN50-billion investment.

When do you expect the project to be complete?
In 2020, we must refurbish and modernize the rail and port infrastructure. We have signed contracts for ports and trains already. For the Port of Salina Cruz, we have modernized a pier, and we want to refurbish another one. In 2021, we can start operations in that port and handle a high number of containers. We are in the process of launching bidding processes for some of the projects, but the pandemic has delayed some of them. Currently, we are designing a bidding process for the management of a terminal of containers, among the other tenders we have. As for Coatzacoalcos, we are modernizing some ports and refurbishing an area so it can be used to store containers. This area would only be a temporary container terminal, because we will develop a container terminal in Coatzacoalcos and another in Salina Cruz within the next three years. We will be able to start transporting containers port to port in 2021. In addition to the logistics infrastructure, we will implement a comprehensive development plan for the region. We are specifically designing a program for the development of all municipalities in the isthmus, especially their local economies. We want to support the agriculture sector in this area so residents no longer need to immigrate to the US.