Mexican customs to be stationed in Kansas City

By WND Staff

A Mexican customs office is being built in the U.S. heartland as part of a newly designed “inland port” facility that links with a Mexican seaport, an official in Kansas City confirms.

Tasha Hammes of the Kansas City Area Development Council wrote to author and WND columnist Jerome Corsi to correct some details of a column on the subject, but she affirmed that a key purpose of the Kansas City Inland Port, or SmartPort, will be to facilitate the movement of containers from the Far East through the Mexican port at Lazaro Cardenas rather than the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Corsi also had written that Kansas City Southern had acquired Mexican railroads to create a “NAFTA Railroad” that would link Lazaro Cardenas to the U.S. for container transport.

Hammes explained that with American consumption of goods from the Far East increasing, U.S. coastal ports are at capacity.

“The Lazaro Cardenas port is providing an alternative way to get products to North America,” she said. “These products will come to Kansas City by way of rail. This is nothing new, other than the fact that Kansas City Southern acquired the Mexican railroad serving this port and that the major work has been done on the port of Lazaro Cardenas so that it has higher capacity and can handle larger containers.”

Hammes pointed out that the Kansas City SmartPort is “a non-profit organization, not a physical building or facility being built for Mexico.”

Hammes confirmed Kansas City plans to house a Mexican customs facility in the city’s port, but she pointed out it will handle outbound U.S. freight exclusively, not inbound.

Hammes clarified that Kansas City, Mo., is leasing the site to Kansas City SmartPort. It will not be leased to any Mexican government agency or be sovereign territory of Mexico.

“It will employ both U.S. and Mexican Customs officials just like the current facilities in place at our nation’s borders,” she said. “It’s a facility that U.S. companies will use to expedite the process of shipping their goods to customers in Mexico.”

A brochure on the Kansas City SmartPort website documents the connection between Lazaro Cardenas and Kansas City’s decision to become America’s number one “inland port,” saying:

“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.”

Corsi contends a main purpose of opening Lazaro Cardenas to receive a greater volume of containers from the Far East and linking it with the planned NAFTA Super-Corridor and Kansas City SmartPort is to reduce labor costs.

Longshoremen would not be employed at the port of Lazaro Cardenas, and, in Mexico, the employees of Kansas City Southern would not be United Transportation Union workers.

To the extent that Mexican trucks become involved in the operation, it would mean Teamster Union drivers would not be employed in the operation.

Hammes made no comment on this aspect of Corsi’s column.

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.

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 boasts: ”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.”

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