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Ken Roberts and Luis Bazan, bridge director of the Pharr International Bridge.

PHARR, RGV – Ken Roberts, president and chief executive officer of WorldCity Incorporated, published Pharr’s Trade Numbers 2016 in English and Spanish. He presented his findings to a group of brokers at the Tierra Del Sol Golf Course in Pharr.

Roberts founded WorldCity Inc. in 1998. The organization has annual Trade Numbers publications depicting trade data for certain areas. WorldCity Inc. gathered statistics for major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Laredo.

“This allows the community to better understand its interaction with the global economy from an import-export point of view and it really leads to fascinating stories,” Roberts said.

Pharr reached out to Roberts to request a publication for their city. Roberts said Pharr’s trade was up slightly this year for the first seven months of the year. When compared to the other 475 airports, seaports and border crossings during the same time period, trade is normally down.

“When I saw Pharr’s [trade] was up, I assumed quickly that it was going to be Mexico,” Roberts said. “More than 90 to 95 percent of Pharr’s trade is with Mexico. But when I looked at Pharr’s trade with Mexico, it was down. I later found this enormous increase with China–a surge of computers, TVs and computer monitors [as well as] video game consoles.”

Pharr first showed interest in a trade numbers study when current city manager of Pharr, Juan Guerra, was the bridge director in 2013. The city brought Roberts down as a guest speaker and it wasn’t until that time the city got a good understanding of their import-export statistics. Luis Bazan, current bridge director of Pharr International Bridge, commissioned the second trade number study.

“We wanted to take it to the masses,” Bazan said. “We wanted to make sure that it was dual language. … It’s a great sales tool for clients [and] for customers. They can take this to potential new customers over there and talk to them about the importance of this bridge.”

Pharr Trade Numbers shows data from 2015. The city ranked number 30 out of an estimated 475 airports, seaports and border crossings. Pharr also ranked first in two of its top import categories such as avocados as well as raspberries and strawberries.

The publication depicts the city’s top three trade partners are Mexico at $29.19 billion, China is ranked second at $363.37 million and Japan at $142.59 million.

Pharr Trade Numbers also shows the highest rankings for exports. Number one is petroleum gas and other gases at $1.16 billion, TVs and computer monitors at $401.15 million and motor vehicle parts at $391.5 million.

Bazan said the city made significant progress within the last three or four years. Pharr invested their marketing dollars towards trips and meeting with future customers who may utilize the Pharr International Bridge.

“It’s been putting us on the map and this essentially gets us one step closer to realizing that goal of having the … global trade realize we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Bazan said. “We’re a big port of entry. We’re growing. We’re investing about $15-$20 million in the next 15 to 20 years in infrastructure. This is all northbound infrastructure. We’re also already working on potential projects for south bound as well.”

WorldCity Inc. also creates TradeNumbers publications for countries such as China, Korea and Costa Rica. Roberts said the company may publish one on Mexico next year.

“The timing is very good because I think it’d be helpful for people to understand the relationship between Mexico and the United States from a trade perspective,” Roberts said. “We’re so codependent on each other. Mexico is ranked third as a trade partner in the United States which is vastly critical to the U.S. economy.”