What is Nearshoring?
Nearshoring involves the relocation of manufacturing operations from Asia to countries in Latin America, primarily focusing on Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. While each country presents unique opportunities and challenges, nearshoring in Latin America offers several key benefits.
The Advantages of Shifting Production to Latin America:
Reduced Logistics Costs:
One of the primary advantages of nearshoring to a Latin American country is the significant reduction in transportation and shipping costs compared to sourcing from Asia. Shorter shipping distances from a nearby country result in shorter lead times, reducing inventory holding costs and the risk of supply chain disruption, which has become increasingly important amid recent disruptions like COVID-19 and trade conflicts.
Enhanced Agility and Responsiveness:
Close proximity to the target market allows for faster response times to changes in demand or customer preferences. Nearshoring enables companies to quickly adjust production volumes, customize products, and implement just-in-time manufacturing, ultimately improving overall operational efficiency.
Cultural and Linguistic Affinity:
Latin American countries share similar cultural and linguistic traits with the United States, making communication and collaboration more effective. With a larger number of Spanish speakers in the US compared to Mandarin speakers, the linguistic advantage and cultural similarity further facilitate smoother interactions and better understanding between businesses.
Time Zone Advantages:
Nearshoring provides time zone advantages for US companies. Overlapping work hours allow for real-time communication, faster decision-making, and prompt issue resolution compared to dealing with Asian countries, creating a more efficient and productive business environment.
Intellectual Property Protection and Geopolitical Stability:
Some Latin American countries have made significant progress in strengthening intellectual property rights protection, providing improved security for protecting proprietary technology and designs. Additionally, Latin American countries generally offer greater geopolitical stability, reducing the risks associated with trade disruptions related to geopolitical tensions.
Challenges and Considerations in Nearshoring to Latin America:
While nearshoring in Latin America offers numerous advantages, it is important to address the following challenges:
Higher Labor Costs:
Labor costs in many Latin American countries tend to be higher than in Asian countries, apart from China. Nearshoring may result in increased manufacturing operation expenses, potentially affecting the overall cost competitiveness of the final product. However, the current trend in Latin America, particularly in Mexico, reflects a narrowing gap in labor costs compared to China.
Infrastructure, including transportation networks, ports, and utilities, may be less developed in certain parts of Latin America. This can pose additional costs and logistical complexities when setting up or expanding manufacturing operations. It is crucial to assess the infrastructure capabilities of potential nearshoring locations and work closely with freight forwarders to mitigate these challenges.
Political and Economic Stability:
Political instability and economic fluctuations are potential risks in Latin American countries. Companies considering nearshoring must carefully evaluate the stability of the host country's political climate, regulatory environment, and economic conditions to mitigate potential disruptions to their operations.
Skilled Labor Availability:
Finding labor with suitable expertise and experience can be a challenge in Latin America. Companies may need to invest in training and development programs or explore regions with a more abundant talent pool to ensure a skilled workforce is readily available.
Nearshoring and reshoring are transforming the manufacturing landscape, offering businesses a strategic opportunity to optimize their supply chains and enhance operational efficiency. The shift from Asia to Latin America provides numerous benefits such as reduced logistics costs, enhanced agility and responsiveness, cultural affinity, time zone advantages, and improved intellectual property protection. However, businesses must also consider challenges such as higher labor costs, infrastructure limitations, political and economic stability, and skilled labor availability when making nearshoring decisions. By conducting a thorough analysis of industry-specific factors and individual business requirements, companies can leverage the advantages of nearshoring to unlock new opportunities in the Americas while partnering with freight forwarders to navigate the complexities of the global supply chain.
Your Partner in Proactive Global Logistics
With the most efficient global shipping solutions, encompassing ocean, air, and land transportation services, ASF is an indispensable partner in executing a nearshoring strategy. Our expertise in regional regulations, customs procedures, and logistics infrastructure streamlines the movement of goods and overall supply chain efficiency in a wide range of industries.
Our custom brokerage services prove invaluable in navigating the intricacies of cross-border trade, saving time and resources while ensuring compliance with international trade regulations. The inclusion of ocean cargo insurance further enhances the nearshoring experience by providing comprehensive coverage against potential risks and losses during transit.
Choosing ASF as the preferred freight forwarder for nearshoring endeavors guarantees a human-centered approach to logistics, built upon a foundation of integrity and unparalleled customer service. Our proactive mindset anticipates challenges and devises tailor-made solutions, mitigating potential disruptions and bolstering the efficiency of nearshore operations. With a dedicated team of account managers, we ensure personalized attention and support for every client. Contact the ASF team to talk about your current logistics program and experience a more personalized, proactive, and effective approach today.
Meet Our Expert
This article is reviewed by Jeffrey D. Plumley, Chief Commercial Officer and Licensed US Customs House Broker.
Jeff has an extensive background in global logistics, spanning various freight forwarding executive management positions. As a Licensed US Customs House Broker, he has managed regulatory compliance and is a worldwide expert in Flexitank transportation logistics.
In addition to his strong forwarding and Flexitank background, Jeff was also Head of Regulatory Compliance and Sales for a major global logistics software provider. He has over 30 years of logistics experience and a strong leadership background having graduated from the Citadel.