Wednesday, April 11, 2012

San Antonio approaches table to take its turn at eating Laredo's lunch

"Dum dee dumm dee....Huh? San Antonio is doing what??"

Thanks to one of our readers, Et Tu Rossi, for alerting us to this lunch-eating development up in the Alamo City.  It turns out they're holding a big time meeting with many of this hemisphere's big players in trade and business.


Take a deep breath and then read the name of this organization:

The Federation of Freight Forwarders, Logistics Operators and Cargo Agents of Latin America and the Caribbean. The federation goes by the acronym ALACAT. Even in Spanish, the acronym letters don't line up correctly, but it doesn't matter.

The members of this group are among the most powerful businesspeople in the hemisphere.
And they are coming to San Antonio for a conference May 13 to 16.

Freight forwarders are like travel agents for international cargo. They are experts, therefore, in supply chain management. Forwarders and cargo agents arrange for materials and components to reach factories and for finished products to reach their markets. An extraordinary amount of business investment is placed along supply chain routes. If your fair city has enough freight coming through it, you have an advantage in attracting manufacturing and suppliers.

About 150 ALACAT members will attend the conference. That doesn't sound like very many people. How important are they? Enough that the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, will travel to San Antonio to speak to them. His topic: an update on the Panama Canal widening, which promises to shake up global freight movements.

ALACAT rarely holds a conference in the United States. Recent conferences were held in Cartagena, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Mérida, Mexico.

How did San Antonio land the 2012 conference?
Port San Antonio, as an ALACAT member, lobbied for it, arguing that San Antonio can play a bigger role in regional and U.S. business. Most of (the ALACAT members) will talk about Miami, New Orleans and Houston,” said Jorge Canavati, Port San Antonio's business development vice president. “We think they will be pleasantly surprised at what they find here.”

While here, ALACAT members will be offered tours of Port San Antonio and Port Corpus Christi, which is a conference co-sponsor. “This is an international group that controls cargo,” Port Corpus Christi Executive Director John LaRue said. “Having them in San Antonio gives South Texas an opportunity to show what we can do.” (What? no tour of Port Laredo?)

At Port San Antonio, ALACAT members will take in an aerospace, logistics and office park, with a long runway, warehouses and rail terminals with improved truck access. Customs services are available for international freight.

In the rest of San Antonio, members will see interstates running in five directions, rail lines in all directions and Union Pacific's gigantic terminal switching freight between rail and trucks, along with a growing amount of exports leaving the city.

During the conference, ALACAT members will hear about topics such as supply chain security, emerging trade corridors and increased trade with China. Canavati said manufacturers looking for new opportunities in Latin America should attend ALACAT's conference.

The conference will occur as freight volumes rise from an improving hemispheric economy.
“Freight forwarders are the backbone of global trade,” ALACAT President Guillermo González said. “The upcoming event is a very timely forum to explore ways in which an array of industries can better access new opportunities around the world.”

The conference certainly is a chance for South Texas to work its way into those new opportunities.

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  1. No matter how hard San Antonio try's, they will never be a port of entry like those other cities mentioned. They will always be a point along the supply chain, and not a very well located one at that.

  2. Our goal here in San Antonio is to serve our industry regionally as needed in domestic and international logistics and to support our community's international trade interests and needs. Manufacturing direct investment continues to grow and the supply chain infrastructure investment will be there to support it. There is NO interest in slandering our regional partners. Jorge Canavati