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Trade News

Each day TFO Canada publishes a sample of trade news on the Canadian import market along with any new, updated or changed regulations and legislations regarding international trade; countries in which TFO Canada offers services and on the export sectors which it promotes.


Sourcing in Mexico

Friday, November 06, 2009 > 09:43:26

Toshiba of Canada pegs the pros and cons

Does it make sense to source in Mexico? It depends on the product, and the shipper’s willingness to accept start-up challenges and logistics hurdles, according to a panel at the I.E.Canada conference in Toronto recently.

One of the speakers was John O’Reilly, director of customs and traffic with Toshiba of Canada Ltd. Three years ago the company shifted some production of electronic products from China to Mexico, and is pleased with the results. But the benefits didn’t come easily. “It wasn’t without growing pains to set up,” O’Reilly said. “We went in early summer, 2006 and it I think overall it probably took about six to eight months.”

Toshiba chose Mexico for a number of reasons. The shorter lead times are helping the company meet its carbon emission reduction targets, and they’re also benefiting customer service. “From placement of the [purchase order] to production to delivery to the customer, it’s less than two weeks,” he said. “We’ve found the quality of the product that’s being manufactured there is very high.”

There’s also the advantage of price protection. With shorter lead times, goods from Mexico aren’t as affected by volatile market prices; unlike shipments from Asia, which take weeks to arrive, he added.

Since many of the components are sourced locally, they’re eligible for duty relief under NAFTA. Closer alignment of time zones is an advantage, along with lower shipping costs. “We’re using 53-foot dry vans and the number of units per load has increased from the 40’-foot [ocean] containers, resulting in fewer shipments and lower cost per unit.”

But Mexico has it disadvantages too, he pointed out. Cost of labour is higher than it is in China. An even bigger challenge is border congestion.

“Delays at the border typically are two to four hours. Depending on the time of day and the crossing point, shipments don’t leave our facility after noon on Friday or they would not likely cross in time before customs closes for the weekend.”

Toshiba also experienced carrier reluctance. Some of the trucking companies were leery about giving their equipment to dray companies crossing the border. The issue raised questions around liability, and also led to stockpiles. “We had to open three additional warehouses to house product until we could get enough equipment to get it moving,” he said. Security was also a concern, though hasn’t turned out to be a major problem.

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