Across the entire 1,255-mile Texas-Mexico border, Texas has 28 international bridges and border crossings. Mexico was the largest trading partner in 2019 for both the United States and Texas.
According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, in 2019, the United States traded almost $615 billion in goods ($257 billion in exports and $358 billion in imports) with Mexico.140 Also in 2019, Texas traded almost $213 billion in goods ($109 billion in exports and $104 billion in imports) with Mexico—more than four times what Texas traded with Canada, the state’s second- largest trading partner.
Moreover, the 2018 passage of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is expected to have a positive impact of $17.6 billion on Texas’s annual gross product and create 164,700 new jobs in the state.
The City of Laredo and its network of ports, known as Port Laredo, are in a league of their own. Laredo is North America’s busiest land port, handing $232 billion in trade in 2019 while also crossing more than 4 million commercial trucks and 10,000 trains.143 Port Laredo imports more than $1 billion in avocados, exports $3 billion in gasoline, and brings in billions in new cars. Laredo moves more trade (valuation) than all other Texas land ports combined and is billions busier that the Port of Houston. More importantly is that they are outgrowing quickly as well.
While Texas is growing, the primary issue is that Texas’s ability to capitalize on the anticipated economic growth pattern will be hampered by each point-of-entries’ (POE) incapability of handling, efficiently, the increase volume of commerce. In an assessment from the City of El Paso, Dennis Nixon, CEO of the International Bank Commerce stated, “It does us no good to see increased trade at our ports of entry if we do not have the customs inspectors and infrastructure to process that trade.” The City of El Paso similarly noted that, in order for Texas POE’s to take advantage of the opportunities presented by USMCA and remain competitive for this commerce, investing in necessary improvements will remove existing impediments and ensure that El Paso POEs can accommodate any increase in commercial traffic.
Similarly, in the Rio Grande Valley, the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which conducts approximately $40 billion in annual trade, has wait times upwards of four to ten hours during peak season. Thousands of dollars’ worth of produce is lost each year due to spoilage and border wait times will continue to increase without further investment. The City of McAllen sees this serious problem as an opportunity to build-out the Anzalduas Port of Entry into a full northbound and southbound commercial bridge. Their project will ultimately reduce wait times across the region, allowing more efficient delivery of goods and services for Texans, and will also reduce vehicle emissions resulting from less time idling at border crossing.
Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by state Rep. Terry Canales and the Texas House Committee on Transportation in its report to the Texas Legislature. Canales chairs the panel. It was given an interim charge to study land ports of entry. Click here to read the full report.
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