LAREDO, Texas – A recent report by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts showed how important the Lone Star State is to the national economy, and also how important Laredo is to the world of business.
Texas has 29 official ports of entry. In 2015 they facilitated more than $631 billion in trade, according to the report presented by Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
“Trade through Texas supports an estimated 1.6 million Texas jobs and adds $224.3 billion to GSP annually,” the report states. “Of all the Texas trade done in 2015, 56.4 percent was by land, 32.3 percent by water, and 11.3 percent by air.
Laredo was spotlighted in the report. The analysis found that Laredo’s inland ports create some 363,000 net Texas jobs and contributes $52 billion to the state’s gross domestic product. Laredo has five border crossings, which produced $204 billion (32 percent) of all international trade in Texas in 2015.
Click here to read the Comptroller’s report.
“I called the State Comptroller personally and I congratulated him for putting these numbers together,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. “We always have our numbers from the Department of Commerce, but getting this from a state perspective is very important.”
Cuellar said the Comptroller’s report provides an extra argument and reason why trade is so important.
“When the State gives you its perspective, it is also giving you an argument and a reason why we should be enhancing our trade relations with countries like Mexico and Canada, but also is putting that emphasis on border infrastructure at our ports of entries,” Cuellar said.
Focusing on 2015’s statistics, the Comptroller’s report shows other important numbers from the Laredo Bridge System, such as: 51 percent of all truck traffic crossed from Mexico through Texas; the local border was crossed by 3,600 trains hauling some 400,000 rail cars; and the border was crossed by 3.5 billion pedestrians and 5.2 million personal vehicles in Laredo.
“When you put all the ports of entry together, it shows how powerful this (Laredo) border is not only for the State of Texas but for the rest of the country,” Cuellar said.
City of Laredo Mayor, Pete Saenz agreed with Congressman Cuellar.
“The numbers speak by themselves. Texas and Washington know it, I don’t even have to say it,” Saenz said. “This is results of the good work done by the private sector.”
In 2015, the sum of pedestrian, cars and trucks crossing through the Laredo port was nearly 11 million, according to the Texas Centers for Border Economic and Enterprise Development.
And, if you consider the Laredo Customs Districts, it accounted $284 billion in trade in 2015, “making it the third-largest U.S. customs district by value, behind Los Angeles and New York,” Saenz said.
The Comptroller’s report was pleasing for another reason, Congressman Cuellar said. Too many people only think about the border in terms of security, Border Patrol or a border wall, he said. The report offers a different perspective.
“We know it at the border. The border is not only immigration or security, but it’s also a powerful economic engine that we have at the ports of entry at the border,” Cuellar said.
For Mayor Saenz a recent visit to Laredo by Senator John Cornyn shows how aware he is of the impact the city has on the Texas and U.S. economy.
“We want to get that kind of support, to stop being anxious,” Saenz said. “Time will tell, but you just need to hear good news, and if there’s going to be change, we hope it won’t be too drastic,” the mayor added, in reference to the incoming presidency of Donald Trump.
Saenz also commented they haven’t receive a reply from Trump’s office to meet with him.
Laredo native, Blas Castañeda, a member of the Texas Border Coalition, expressed how important the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is, and how it would be a tragedy to mess with it.
“We want to express this to our President-Elect Donald Trump, how much of a tragedy it would be from Brownsville to El Paso to change it,” Castaneda said. “Many depend on it.”
He added that if NAFTA has worked, no bigger modifications are needed.
“We need to focus and work together because security depends on all of us,” he said.
Editor’s Note: For more information, go to: https://www.comptroller.texas.gov/economy/docs/ports/overview-laredo.pdf