Kansas City is planning to allow the Mexican government to open a Mexican customs office in conjunction with the Kansas City SmartPort. This will be the first foreign customs facility allowed to operate on U.S. soil.
City leaders voted last month to give the facility an innocuous name to hide its true identity as an arm of the Mexican government, staffed by Mexican officials.
In fact, Kansas City is so enthusiastic about the opportunity, the cost of building the $3 million dollar facility for Mexico will be paid for by Kansas City taxpayers, not by the Mexican government.
The current plan for the NAFTA Super Corridor calls for the construction of a 12-lane highway (six lanes in each direction) along Interstate 35. The Kansas City SmartPort is designed to be the central hub in the planned NAFTA north-south superhighway cutting through the heart of the United States.
Supercargo ships, carrying goods made by cheap labor in the Far East and China, will unload in the Mexican port at Lazaro Cardenas, eliminating the need to use costly union longshoremen workers in Los Angeles or Long Beach. Rather than transporting the containers by trucks from the West Coast, using Teamster drivers, or on rail, with the assistance of railroad labor in the United Transportation Union, the containers will be loaded onto Mexican non-union railroads at Lazaro Cardenas. At Monterrey, Mexico, the containers will then be loaded onto Mexican non-union semi-trailer trucks that will cross the border at Laredo, Texas, to begin their journey north along the Trans-Texas Corridor, the first leg of the planned continental NAFTA Super Corridor.
To speed the crossing at Laredo, Texas, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America working groups within the U.S. Department of Commerce will allow Mexican trucks to be equipped with electronic FAST technology so the trucks can cross the border in express lanes.
At the Kansas City SmartPort hub, the containers can be transferred to semi-trailers heading east or west, or simply stay on the Mexican trucks all the way into Canada.
According to the SmartPort website, in March 2005, Kansas City signed a cooperative pact with representatives from the Mexican state of Michoacan, where Lazaro Cardenas is located, to increase the cargo volume between Lazaro Cardenas and Kansas City. The whole point is to move cargo fast, using cheap, below union-wage scale Mexican workers to move the containers from Asia into the heart of the USA.
Shipments will be pre-screened in Southeast Asia, and the shipper will send advance notification to Mexican and American Customs with the corresponding ”pre-clearance” information on the cargo. Upon arrival in Mexico, containers will pass through multiple X-ray and gamma ray screenings, allowing any containers with anomalies to quickly be removed for further inspection.
Container shipments will be tracked using intelligent transportation systems, or ITS, that could include global positioning systems or radio frequency identification systems, and monitored on their way to inland trade-processing centers in Kansas City and elsewhere in the United States.
As the Kansas City SmartPort website brags: ”Kansas City offers the opportunity for sealed cargo containers to travel to Mexican port cities with virtually no border delays. It will streamline shipments from Asia and cut the time and labor costs associated with shipping through the congested ports on the West Coast.”
Kansas City Southern, or KCS, has just completed putting together what is being called ”The NAFTA Railroad.” On Jan. 1, 2005, KCS took control of The Texas Mexican Railway Company and the U.S. portion of the International Bridge in Laredo, Texas.
Then in April 2005, KCS purchased the controlling interests in Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, which KCS promptly renamed the Kansas City Southern de Mexico, or KCSM.
Again, the Kansas City SmartPort website notes that ”Kansas City Southern is installing Spanish-language versions of its computer operating system (MCS) in an effort to increase train speeds, reduce waiting times at terminals and enable the free flow of locomotives and rail cars between the United States and Mexico via Kansas City Southern’s railroad bridge at Laredo, Texas.”
No stop is planned for customs inspection for KCSM trains until the Mexican customs facility located at Kansas City. The only security check planned at the U.S. border with Mexico is electronic, with the KCSM railroad moving along pre-approved KCS rail lines.
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