BMI View: We forecast total tonnage growth of 4.8% at the port of Manzanillo in 2015, to 29.9mn tonnes. For the port of Veracruz, total tonnage growth is forecast to be 3.5%, reaching 20.5mn tonnes.
Mexican economic activity will pick up in coming quarters, as private consumption continues to recover from a weak 2014 and manufactured goods exports to the US continue to grow. We remain optimistic toward Mexico's shipping sector on the back of a booming manufacturing sector, an increasingly strong private consumer and favourable demographics The construction sector, especially the residential segment, will also continue to recover from an 18-month recession that ended in June 2014, further contributing to stronger real GDP growth this year. A contraction in oil exports and a reduction in fixed public investment will be the main headwinds for the economy, though they will not be enough to derail an acceleration in real GDP growth. We forecast real GDP growth of 3.3% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2016, up from 2.1% in 2014.
Imported container volumes will be boosted by growing private consumption levels. Household spending will be stronger, bolstered by declining unemployment and to greater consumer confidence. Stronger activity in the manufacturing and construction sectors, both important generators of formal employment, will be the main drivers of lower unemployment. The unemployment rate has already been trending lower, coming in at 4.5% in February 2015, compared to 4.9% a year earlier. We forecast unemployment to average 4.4% in 2015, down from 4.8% in 2014. Partly as a result of more favourable labour market dynamics, consumer confidence has been picking up.
A strengthening US consumer, boosted by cheap fuel prices, will be the main driver of an expansion in manufactured goods exports, especially of autos, bolstering volumes at Mexican ports. A weak peso will further bolster the competitiveness of manufactured goods exports. Import growth will be lower than the...