Every day, thousands of trucks cross the Texas-Mexico border, bringing a variety of goods ranging from fruits and vegetables to electronic equipment. Cross-border supply chains are common, and manufacturing facilities on both sides of the border depend on the efficient flow of products across the border. The recent slowdowns due to additional inspections disrupted these patterns, resulting in not only spoilage of perishable items, but also production delays. Given the strained capacity at the border in normal times, it will be difficult and, in many instances, impossible to “catch up.”
President Trump has threatened to impose 5% tariffs on all goods from Mexico on June 10 if Mexico does not take action to slow the number of immigrants at the border. As I am writing, he has vowed to continue to escalate the levies to 25%, Mexico has threatened to retaliate, and Congress has announced that it will stop them with enough votes to override a veto. Who knows what the status will be when you are reading this? Even if the situation is resolved, the threat of such action increases uncertainty and makes it more difficult to finalize a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. If the tariffs actually go into effect and are maintained, it would cost hundreds of thousands of US jobs.
Every day, nearly $1.7 billion in products cross the US-Mexico border. Trade volume has grown substantially, more than doubling over the past 20 years and up 55% between 2010 and 2018. In early 2019, in the midst of the ongoing trade war with China, Mexico emerged as the largest trading partner of the US. Millions of trucks cross the border each year, and delays at the border cause logistical problems. The current slowing on the US-Mexico border is reducing efficiency and could cost the US economy billions in output and hundreds of thousands of jobs if it persists.