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Borderlands: Canada remains top US trading partner ahead of No. 2 Mexico

Mexico's total trade with the U.S. increased 19% year over year to $67.9 billion in June. Pictured is the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Canada remains top US trading partner; Mexico No. 2

Canada ranked as the United States’ top trading partner for the fifth consecutive month in June and stands No. 1 overall year to date, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Mexico was No. 2, as its total trade with the U.S. increased 19% year over year (y/y) to $67.9 billion in June, compared to the same period in 2021. China rated third with $60.3 billion.

Canada’s total trade with the U.S. rose 24% y/y to $73.3 billion in June, with imports to America increasing 26% to $40.6 billion. Oil, passenger vehicles and gasoline were the top three imports, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by World City

The top U.S. exports to Canada were gasoline, passenger vehicles and oil. Trade between the U.S. and Canada for the first five months of the year totaled $399.2 billion.

Imports from Mexico totaled $39.4 billion in June, a 19% y/y increase from 2021. Computers, passenger vehicles and auto parts were the top three imports. 

Ed Habe, vice president of Mexico sales for Averitt Express, said it continues to see all types of truckload and less-than-truckload freight moving across the border.


“We are currently handling more volume in these lanes than ever before, especially outbound, or northbound, freight from Mexico into the U.S.,” Habe told FreightWaves. “Our three primary border service centers in Laredo, El Paso and Harlingen, Texas, are experiencing record numbers in daily cross-border shipments.”

“We are currently handling more volume in these lanes than ever before, especially outbound, or northbound, freight from Mexico into the U.S.” — Ed Habe, vice president of Mexico sales for Averitt Express

Cookeville, Tennessee-based Averitt Express is a freight transportation and logistics services provider operating in the southern U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Averitt boasts 4,600 tractors and 14,900 trailers. 

The U.S.-Mexico port of entry in Laredo, Texas, remained No. 3 among the nation’s 450 airports, seaports and border crossings in June. The Port of Los Angeles ranked No. 1 among U.S. gateways, followed by Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Total trade at Port Laredo increased almost 19% y/y to $25.8 billion in June, with imports increasing 20.6% y/y to $15.7 billion and exports rising 16% y/y to $10.1 billion.

Port Laredo’s top three imports included auto parts, passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. Auto parts, diesel engines and gasoline were the port’s top three exports.

“In my opinion, [increased imports from Mexico] are a result of a first phase of nearshoring, where our customers that have existing operations within Mexico are increasing volumes and relocating more production lines to Mexico, resulting in higher volumes of finished goods coming into the U.S. for distribution,” Habe said.

Averitt Express has been receiving a higher-than-normal volume of inquiries from shippers about anticipated pricing if they were to move operations to Mexico as they consider nearshoring operations, Habe said. 

“Because of this, we are working now to gear up to be prepared for another phase of companies shifting their production and vendors to Mexico in anticipation of a future need for increased capacity in these lanes,” Habe said.

The FreightWaves SONAR platform includes the outbound tender market share index that measures the relative percentage of outbound tender volumes in each market in the U.S., adding up to 100. 

The Laredo market accounted for 0.51% of the total outbound truckload demand recently, much smaller than markets such as Chicago (Joliet), Kansas City, Missouri, and Dallas in the SONAR chart below. While 0.51% doesn’t sound like much, three weeks ago Laredo was registering more inbound freight than outbound. 

To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Former Flexport executive joins Nuvocargo 

Logistics startup Nuvocargo recently announced the addition of former Flexport executive Nicholas Vernald to its senior leadership team as head of sales in the U.S.

Vernald will build out Nuvocargo’s U.S. sales organization and continue to promote the company’s logistic solutions for trade between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Nicholas Vernald

“I’m looking forward to . . . expanding our American team to build off the momentum we’ve had in Mexico, streamlining door-to-door cross-border trade,” Vernald said in a statement. “With increasing urgency, in the face of major political and infrastructural challenges, companies are shifting manufacturing and supply chains closer to the American market.”

Vernald most recently was with Flexport, where he introduced technology that helped drive revenue from $100 million to $600 million in three years, according to a news release. Prior to that, Vernald worked for C.H Robinson and Mainfreight.

New York-based Nuvocargo was founded in 2019 as a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade between the U.S. and Mexico. The company offers freight forwarding, customs brokerage, cargo insurance and trade financing services.

PLA opens Houston pallet management facility, creates 35 jobs

Pallet Logistics of America (PLA) has opened a 23,000 square-foot facility in Houston.

PLA’s newest location will provide new and recycled pallets, transportation solutions and other supply chain services. The 8-acre facility features 10 truck dock doors and boasts the capacity to process over 3 million pallets annually. The Houston facility also brings 35 jobs to the area, with the possibility of expansion. 

Dallas-based PLA is one of the largest pallet management service providers in the country, operating over 75 facilities. The PLA family of companies include Pallet Repair Services, Pal-Serv, Propak, Valley Pallet and Yancey Pallet. PLA’s parent company is Silver Oak Services Partners.

CBP seizes $12M worth of drugs from tractor-trailer

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recently discovered more than 900 pounds of cocaine and fentanyl hidden in a shipment of heavy machinery at the Otay Mesa port of entry near San Diego.

The case occurred Aug. 5 when CBP officers were inspecting a tractor-trailer arriving from Mexico hauling a shipment of heavy machinery gears. CBP officers found more than 362 packages of cocaine, weighing 871 pounds, and 18 packages containing fentanyl, weighing 42 pounds, from inside the heavy machinery.

The estimated street value of the narcotics amounted to $12.8 million.

The truck driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for further processing. CBP officers seized the narcotics along with the truck and trailer.

Watch: The supply chain dumpster fire rages on.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]