Chinese, U.S. rail firms eye Mexico as reforms loom -lawmaker

martes 25 de febrero de 2014 22:26 GYT

By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. and Chinese rail companies have expressed interest in the Mexican rail freight market if a bill that seeks to open up the sector to more companies is approved, the head of the lower house of Congress' transport commission said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Mexico's lower chamber overwhelmingly approved a reform of the rail freight law which would open up a sector controlled almost entirely by two concession-holders: Grupo Mexico's Ferromex and Ferrosur railroads, and Kansas City Southern de Mexico.

Under the terms of the bill, which still has to be approved by the Senate, these concession-holders would be forced to share their lines or risk losing them. They would also have to publish prices they charge customers for interconnections with routes owned by other companies.

"What's this proposal aiming to do? Bring new players into the market," lawmaker Juan Carlos Munoz, a member of the opposition National Action Party, told Reuters.

"There's an interest in China to enter Mexico's rail market, the United States and China," he added.

Munoz declined to name the companies that had expressed interest, but said any potential newcomers would benefit from a recently approved overhaul of Mexico's long-shuttered energy sector, which aims to lure foreign investment.

Rail freight is crucial for Mexico's fast-growing auto production and manufacturing sectors, which are key to economic growth, and the energy reform is also expected to boost sales.

However, some customers, like steel producers, say the lack of competition makes for exorbitant freight prices.   Continuación...