MCALLEN, Texas – Three topics will be featured during an international trade webinar being hosted next Thursday by the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

The topics are: an update on how USMCA is working, the impact of COVID-19 on cross-border commerce, and the agenda the Biden Administration might follow for international trade.

“This webinar is free. It is a service to our companies or our community,” said Keith Patridge, president and CEO of McAllen EDC.

Keynote speaker will be Jorge Torres, president of Interlink Trade Services, a customs brokerage based in McAllen, Pharr and Brownsville, Texas. 

“Jorge does an excellent job,” Patridge said. “I consider him to be a resident expert here in the Rio Grande Valley on the USMCA, on trade policy, and trade regulations, including the 301 tariffs that exist with China still.”

Torres has been a licensed customs broker for 25 years and has worked with maquiladoras and in customs brokerage operations for 30 years. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Texas A&M University and a Master of Professional Accounting from Texas A&M International University.

Torres was keynote speaker on a similar webinar McAllen EDC hosted last June. Then, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was just about to start.

“The feedback we got from our first webinar was excellent. Everyone felt like it was extremely helpful for them,” Patridge said.

“Jorge provides information that is really useful on a day to day basis for our companies. Because of that first one, the reaction we got, we wanted to do an update. Hopefully, those that tuned in last time will watch this one and we will get many more people to join us.”

Asked about the first webinar and what to expect from the second one, Torres said: 

“We gave a webinar last year in June right before USMCA became effective, which was July 1. Back then we focused on USMCA and what to expect with the new trade agreement. Six months have gone by since the implementation dates, so there have been some updates, some changes, more from a technical standpoint but also we now have more information on what we can see might happen with USMCA in the near future, and especially 2021,” Torres said.

“We have also had to deal with COVID-19, the pandemic. Hopefully, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are going to mention how it impacted trade and what we can expect for this year. Lastly, a change in administration in the United States as regards trade policy.”

Keith Patridge

MEDC’s Patridge believes next Thursday’s webinar will be of particular interest to companies based in the Rio Grande Valley and Tamaulipas that are involved in cross-border trade.

“The companies that we have recruited here over the past 30-plus years, we really want to make sure we take care of them as much as we possibly can and provide them with useful information to help them make decisions for the coming year and beyond that into further years,” Patridge said.

“A number of those companies are telling us that they are in the middle of planning for some major expansions. But all of that hinges on what Jorge is going to talk about from the standpoint of administration policy, what the new Biden administration might do, the rules of USMCA and how these may have changed with interpretation and technical changes and then really what the impact of COVID has been on, not just the global economy but boiling that down to the border economy and in particular the Rio Grande Valley and our neighbors across the river in Mexico.”

Torres will also provide some projections, Patridge said.

“So, it helps our existing companies, hopefully plan better, run better operations, which in turn will help them grow in our area and create more jobs, and generate more revenues which is what we are interested in, of course. But then it also helps our new companies that we are working with, those that maybe have an interest in locating here but really don’t understand how the border functions and what the impact of USMCA may be on their product and their decision on where to locate new investment for a new factory.”

Patridge added: “From our standpoint this is helping us to do our job to help give clarification to companies, either those that are already here to grow and those that aren’t here to understand better what opportunities we have for their company here on the border.”

Torres said he will likely be preparing his presentation right up until the webinar takes place. This is because more information is being learned all the time about what the Biden Administration might do with international trade.

“We are going to try to provide the most current information available up to the day prior to the seminar. As you know, things are moving along pretty fast now with Biden. It has been interesting, challenging to some degree, putting together the presentation. There is plenty of information out there. We are going to do our best to consolidate that information into 90 minutes. Hopefully the audience will have the most accurate information available at this time,” Torres said.

The webinar takes place Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the McAllen EDC website. The event is free to watch but registration is required in advance of the show. For more information go to:

Editor’s Note: The above news story has been updated. The new version has audio of an interview with Keith Patridge and Jorge Torres. The original version, posted Feb. 7, 2021, did not include the audio.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Jorge Torres. (Photo credit: Anayancy Ulloa Luna/Mexico Industry)

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