Delays at the Mexico-United States border are costing Mexican exporters US $800 million a day, according to the president of the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin).
Thousands of trucks have faced long wait times at several ports of entry to the United States since early last week following a decision by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reassign 750 border officials to deal with a massive influx of migrants. Some lanes at border crossings have been closed as a result.
Francisco Cervantes said that the US $800 million figure is an estimate because Concamin is waiting for the National Council of the Maquiladora Industry (Index) to provide information about the losses of its member companies.
He warned that if the delays continue, the United States will suffer from a shortage of Mexican products such as auto parts and fresh food.
Eduardo Solís, president of the Mexican Auto Industry Association (AMIA), said that sector is “obviously” affected by the long wait times at the border.
He called on Mexican authorities to promptly reach an agreement with their United States counterparts to allow cross-border flows to return to normal.
Delays could also create gasoline shortages.
Gasoline importers have complained that it is taking them up to three days to cross the border and return, whereas it normally takes 16 hours.
Julio Jáuregui, CEO of importer Enermex, said the delays have been most severe at ports of entry in Tamaulipas including Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros, all of which share borders with Texan cities.
He explained that the Mexican market is very sensitive to any fuel import delays because Mexico only has storage capacity for three days.
In Chihuahua, Governor Javier Corral said yesterday it was urgent that the governments of Mexico and the United States reach an immigration agreement to deal with migration flows from Central America and to normalize cross-border trade.
“Mexico . . . needs to decide if it is going to continue allowing the passage of these migrant caravans and this unusual migration from countries such as Cuba . . .” he said.
Corral said he has been in contact with Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard to ensure that the government is well-informed about the magnitude of the problem caused by delays at the border, stating that “in the beginning, it appeared to us that the president didn’t have sufficient information” about their impact.
The governor said that he understood that the United States government was trying to pressure its Mexican counterpart into doing more to stem migration flows but contended that it was going about it the wrong way.
“. . . What the government in Washington doesn’t understand or doesn’t fully understand is that the border is a binational community that interrelates in multiple ways, which shares many economic, cultural and social activities as well as family ties . . .” Corral said.
The governor said cross-border shipments at Chihuahua ports of entry were below 40% of what they normally are. Some businesses have begun using air charter services to transport goods from Ciudad Juárez to Santa Teresa, New Mexico – a distance of less than 40 kilometers.
Echoing comments made by Business Coordinating Council (CCE) president Carlos Salazar Lomelín about United States President Trump, Corral said that the U.S. government is “shooting itself in the foot” by taking decisions that slow down trade at the border because the economy in that country also suffers.
Two-way daily trade between Mexico and the United States is worth US $1.7 billion, and 83% of that trade occurs across land borders, according to the U.S. business organization Council of the Americas.