The flow of bilateral Mexico-USA trade has increased six-fold in value in the past 20 years to nearly 1.5 billion dollars a day; 80% of it moves by truck or rail. A new rail bridge, the West Rail Bypass International Bridge (WBR), opened in late August, capable of carrying up to 24 million metric tons of freight a year, which should help reduce delays in trans-border trade.
The WBR links Matamoros (Tamaulipas) to Brownsville (Texas). It took four years to build and is the first new rail link between Mexico and the USA for more than a century. The bridge can be used by 14 trains a day and replaces a rail line that previously wound its way, with frequent delays, through a heavily congested urban area.
In an unrelated effort to speed up trans-border shipments, Mexican and U.S. officials are testing a single, joint customs inspection procedure that could cut border-crossing times for freight by up to 80%.
The program is being tested at three locations:
- Laredo international airport in Texas (for vehicle, electronic and aerospace components being flown to eight cities in Mexico),
- Mesa de Otay in Baja California (for Mexican farm products entering the U.S.) and
- San Jerónimo in Chihuahua (for computers and other electronic exports from Mexico).
Assuming the six month pilot project is successful, costly border delays for some trans-border shipments could soon be a thing of the past. The project has been warmly welcomed by AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, which represents more than 1,400 companies.