Stolen cargoes cost the apparel industry sround $700m a year

Stolen cargoes cost the apparel industry sround $700m a year

Mexico's apparel association has asked the government to toughen security on the country's roads amid rising crime against clothing cargoes aimed at the export market.

"More and more of our member firms are complaining that their cargoes are being attacked and stolen in the north of the country," says Claudia Isabel Ramos, general manager of leading trade association Canaive.

She adds stolen cargoes cost the industry some $700m a year. The situation in some ports, including Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, which bridges into New Laredo, Texas, has worsened in recent months, as organised crime rings have increased attacks on all types of merchandise cargoes.

This, on top of a rising drug trade in Northern Mexico (particularly near the Monterrey City area) has made it increasingly difficult - and expensive - to export to the US via that route.

"All cargoes need to be escorted by private security or insurers won't protect them," adds Carlos Cherem, Canaive's president, in a press conference earlier this week to announce the apparel industry's trade results. "It costs MXN20,000 ($1,700) to hire security services to move merchandise from Mexico City to Manzanillo", another main border with the US.

Ramos said the industry has been detouring cargoes through Veracruz and Manzanillo to avoid the "dangerous" Monterrey - Nuevo Laredo route.

Ramos adds road conditions must also improve in Mexico where a system of toll-roads has been expanded in recent years but can still present poor conditions. She says the industry is increasingly relying on rail transport, though that network is very small in Mexico.

"We've found the rail to be much slower but, on the other hand, much safer."

In 2011, the industry's exports (96% of which go to the US) rose 8% to $4.2bn. Dometic sales were also robust, with sales (including both same and new stores) leaping 11.3% against 2012.

Soaring Chinese imports
Despite this, Cherem sounds the alarm against an uncontrolled flood of Chinese imports, which accounted for the bulk of this year's 20% import increase to $728m.

He says the sector has dropped efforts to get the government to help combat the Chinese trade, which is triggering big losses for domestic producers due to a rising tide of sub-valued and fake products. These account for some 60% of all apparel sold in Mexico, Canaive claims.

To combat the Chinese import trade, Canaive is working to strike cooperative deals with its counterparts in China.

Ramos says the sector hopes to sign wide-ranging anti-piracy agreements with five regional apparel associations early next year. The accords will also look to strengthen bilateral trade between the two  countries and cooperation in apparel research and development (R&D).