October 2002 | How-To | Ten Tips

Choosing Cross-Border Partners

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Moving goods across U.S. borders into Mexico can be difficult if you don't align yourself with the right partners and establish solid relationships with carriers and brokers. Here are suggestions to help you select your cross-border partners wisely, from Gene Sevilla-Secasa, vice president, managing director for Ryder Latin America.

1. Invest adequate time and do your homework when selecting your providers. Choosing cross-border partners is a big decision, so make sure you shop around and ask the right questions. To effectively ship across borders, you will need to select five providers:

  • a U.S. carrier
  • a Mexican carrier
  • a U.S. customs broker
  • a Mexican customs broker
  • a cross-border drayage company

You need to select the right provider in each of these categories and that takes time.

2. Consider using an experienced logistics company. Rather than selecting each of the five providers yourself, look into using a complete logistics organization that has the capabilities to coordinate all the documentation and activities (and maybe execute some activities) required for cross-border shipments. These companies already have established contacts in the area and have done the research.

3. Look for a broker with specific experience in your industry. If you are shipping apparel, select U.S. and Mexican customs brokers that have experience moving apparel items. Whether you are moving pharmaceuticals, computers, or automotive parts, it's crucial to work with a broker that understands the rules and parameters governing shipments for your specific industry.

4. Check out the carrier's infrastructure. How many yards and drivers, and how much equipment does the carrier maintain in the border cities where you need service? Inspect the carrier's infrastructure to make sure that it meets your transportation requirements.

5. Recommend that your U.S. and Mexican carriers participate in U.S. Customs programs. Many excellent U.S. Customs programs offer carrier participation and can greatly facilitate and speed your border crossings. Some programs to consider: CIP (Carrier Initiative Program), BASC (Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition, C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism).

6. Demand instant access to information on shipments. Make sure your carriers and brokers have the capability and technology to provide real-time information about the status of your shipments.

7. Avoid surprises; make sure that all accessorial charges are included in the contract. When contracting with carriers make sure that all costs are included such as charges for stops, delay time, tolls, and team drivers.

8. Consider using a carrier that utilizes the Mexican toll highways. If you are moving high-value and/or time-sensitive freight, consider carriers that are using the Mexican toll highway network, in spite of its additional cost. The increased safety, fuel economy, driver comfort, and reduced wear and tear on your carrier's vehicles are usually well worth the tolls.

9. Develop a security framework for your freight, or make sure your carrier has one. Unfortunately there is considerable insecurity and risk of theft for cargo moving on Mexican highways. If you are moving high-value freight that is easily commercialized, pay particular attention to developing a security framework in Mexico.

10. Understand and develop an efficient process to manage the flow of information. Whatever cross-border partner you choose, make sure that you can maintain a process for managing the flow of information among all participants and the flow of product from one side of the border to the other.

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