PHARR, Texas – The value of goods crossing the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in 2021 was almost $42 billion, a new record.

Details on the trade data was provided to the Pharr Bridge Board by Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan at a recent board meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, Bazan gave an interview to the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

“We hit record numbers in 2021, much better than we forecast,” Bazan said. “Remember, we hit $36 billion in 2019, before the pandemic. In 2020 we dropped to $33 billion, mainly because the automotive sector was hit hard.”

Bazan, pictured above, continued: “Coming into 2021, we were hoping to get back to at least $36 billion or $37 billion. In November we were already at $38 billion. So, we forecast somewhere around $40 billion by the end of December. Now we have the numbers, and we reached $41.77 billion, almost $42 billion in trade in 2021. We came back and we came back stronger than before.”

In his monthly report to his board of directors, Bazan said it was important to analyze the numbers by calendar year. Ordinarily, the value of trade crossing the bridge would be looked at by fiscal year. The Pharr Bridge Board’s fiscal year is October to September.

“It is imperative we talk about the calendar year for crossings and revenues because if you go to our trade numbers study, produced by Ken Roberts of WorldCity, it is by calendar year. We have to make sure we have a full and complete story. And this tells the story. A great story.”

Bazan said exports of oil and gas to Mexico were having a big impact on the value of trade crossing the Pharr Bridge. 

“We are bringing in more southbound because of the tankers and the six axle trucks, which represents the energy sector, which is a huge. LNG (liquefied natural gas) grew by almost 95 percent in 2021. Gasoline and other petroleum products grew by 180 percent in 2021. That is our biggest export going southbound.”

As for northbound trade, the Pharr Bridge is getting back to pre-pandemic levels, Bazan said.

“We are recapturing over 90 percent of what we were doing northbound. Right now, our southbound numbers are surpassing our northbound numbers. We are even beyond that. It is because of the energy sector.”

Bazan said the value of goods crossing the Pharr Bridge is better than anyone could have predicted.

“If you go back to when the pandemic started, in March 2020, going into April, we said, we are going to take a hit, a 40 percent hit. We only took half of that, maybe 13 percent,” Bazan said.

“As of June of 2020, the numbers started spiking. That is because the economy shifted. A lot of bad things happened with the pandemic. I cannot say that for the Pharr International Bridge. The Pharr International Bridge and, I think, a lot of other land ports of entry, have actually gained from the pandemic.”

The Guardian asked Bazan to comment on a short presentation made by Eddie Gutierrez, president of Blue Stone Capital Solutions and a consultant for the Pharr Bridge. In his presentation to the board of directors, Gutierrez predicted more trade from Southeast Asia due to the disruptions to the supply chain. 

“Everything is there but we have to be the ones to go line it all up,” Bazan responded. “We have to ensure that customers understand the significance of this port, not just the customers here but in Mexico as well. We trade with over 90 countries. We have to point them in our right direction.”

Bazan said this year’s focus would be on retaining existing customers and going after new markets. He said he and his team would do that by attending key trade shows and meeting with industry and government leaders, predominantly in Mexico.

“This year, there is a whole lot more we want to capture. Eddie helped us out with his import-export analysis. We are using that analysis to find out what market share we do not have yet. We have to be strategic. We have a pretty full schedule from here until the end of the fiscal year.”

Asked what sectors the Pharr Bridge team is looking to attract, Bazan said:

“You have a customer, you want to retain that. Fresh produce is going to be huge. Automotive is on the up and up, but still kind of iffy. We want to be able to cross those big block engines through here. We are crossing a lot of automotive components and parts, but not the bigger stuff.

“We also want more technology, computer chips, wires, insulated cable. We are looking at liquors and beers and maybe even meats. We do not service those areas yet. We want to go after some of that.”

Bazan added: “We continue to grow, continue to expand. Our leadership allows us to go out there and get things done. So, we are excited about what the future holds. There are just more and better things coming.”

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