LAREDO, Texas – The importance and value of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for the United States has been highlighted in different studies.

“The Laredo Custom District process 280 billion dollars of trade… and local officials anticipate trade through Laredo to increase by 40 percent over the next five years,” a press release from the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, states.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

Recently, 2,000 trucks were tracked with GPS from the Laredo Port of Entry to see how and where they travel into the U.S.

The study that covered those trucks for a week showed that the group reached every state by day seven.

The results of the “Truck-Freight Flow from Texas-Mexico Border to the Rest of the US – One Week Analysis”, by the Texas Department of Transportation, was presented by Cuellar in Laredo this month.

“When you talk about the impact of a place like Laredo, Texas, you will see that it has an impact not only in the state of Texas, but definitely across the nation itself,” Cuellar said. “Our strength here are the trains, the buses, and especially the truck traffic that we have.”

Laredo handles 14,000 trucks, 22 trains, and almost 120 buses every day.

Cuellar said that trade between the U.S. and México now stands at $1.5 billion a day.

During the presidential race, President-Elect Donald Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement the worst trade agreement the U.S. has ever signed. He vowed to alter it or scrap it altogether.

Taking away NAFTA would be difficult because it would involve a number of legal issues and a bill would need to be passed through Congress, Cuellar added.

“It’s more complicated,” he said. “If the U.S. puts a tax on some goods, México will do the same.”

Furthermore, in a study conducted for Harvard University in 2012, Viridiana Rios found that “from 1995 to 2003, the overall value of U.S.-Mexico and Mexico-Canada trade more than doubled, while truck activity between the U.S. and Mexico increased almost 31 percent.”

The study also mentioned that by 2000, 32.69 percent of all cargo crossed into the US via Nuevo Laredo.

“In practical terms this means that about 35.58 percent of all the revenues coming from U.S.-Mexico trade was done in Nuevo Laredo, while 21.49 percent was done in Juarez, and 11.16 percent in Tijuana,” the study added.

For Mayor of Laredo, Pete Saenz, NAFTA means jobs.

“If you take NAFTA out it would affect us tremendously, and without NAFTA Laredo wouldn’t be what it is,” Saenz said in a previous interview. “NAFTA is the bread and butter, the backbone for transportation. We depend on international trade especially with Mexico.”

Authorities and local official agreed that NAFTA could be revised and adjusted, but taking it out would be more dangerous than good for all three countries, the U.S., Mexico and Canada, in the final analysis.

Number of Trucks Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border (2000)

Nuevo Laredo: 1,351,771 trucks; 43.93 percent empty
Tijuana: 681,413; 45.60 percent empty
Ciudad Juárez: 688,224; 47.49 percent empty
Reynosa: 332,367; 40.01 percent empty
Calexico: 191,797; 47.24 percent empty
Nogales: 254,744; 24.87 percent empty
Matamoros: 299,671; 56.02 percent empty
Piedras Negras: 106,895; 43.96 percent empty
Acuna: 61,226; 35.99 percent empty
Mexicalli: 63,254; 48.95 percent empty
San Luis Rio Colorado: 30,303; 37.55 percent empty
Camargo: 21,849; 24.11 percent empty
Agua Prieta: 29,376; 40.67 percent empty
Miguel Aleman: 12,957; 43.24 percent empty
Ojinaga: 8,742; 33.50 percent empty

Total: 4,134,598; 1,823,258
Percentage of all border crossings: 98.43; 98.52

Source: Matisziw (2005). Note that not all points of entry are reported.