Watch Now

Borderlands: Mexico regains spot as top US trading partner

Mexico was the United States’ No. 1 trading partner in February, knocking China off the top spot. Pictured are trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mexico regains spot as top U.S. trading partner; Mexico moves up to fourth-largest global auto parts producer; Arizona gets $315 million for ports of entry; and CBP seizes $9 million in meth from commercial trucks. 

Mexico regains spot as top US trading partner

Mexico was the United States’ No. 1 trading partner in February, knocking China off the top spot and into third place.

Mexico’s trade with the U.S. increased 16% year-over-year in February to $56.25 billion, with imports from Mexico increasing 19% to $33 billion and U.S. exports to Mexico increasing 13% to $23.7 billion.

Mexico was the second-ranked U.S. trading partner in January and third in December. Prior to this month, the last time Mexico ranked No. 1 was April 2021.

Mexico only narrowly beat out Canada in February. Canada ranked second with $56.2 billion in total trade with the U.S., an 18% year-over-year increase. Canada exported $25.3 billion to the U.S. and imported $30.9 billion during February.

China had $53.9 billion in total trade with the U.S. in February, an increase of 24% year-over-year. The U.S. imported $42.3 billion in goods from China and exported $11.6 billion. 

Japan, at $18 billion, and Germany, at $14.8 billion, were the fourth- and fifth-largest U.S. trade partners in February.

The top three ports of entry in February were Chicago O’Hare International Airport at $25.5 billion, the Port of Los Angeles at $24.4 billion and Port Laredo at $21.4 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

Port Laredo totaled 211,347 commercial truck crossings in February, a 27.5% increase from the same month in 2021.

Port Laredo was the top-ranked U.S. port of entry for trade with Mexico in February, followed by:

  • Ysleta border bridge in El Paso, Texas, $5.3 billion.
  • Otay Mesa freeway border crossing, California, $4.6 billion.
  • Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Texas, $3.6 billion.
  • Eagle Pass International Bridge, Texas, $2.4 billion.

The top U.S. imports from Mexico during February were:

  • Passenger vehicles, $2.6 billion.
  • Auto parts, $2.3 billion.
  • Computers, $2.2 billion.
  • Commercial vehicles, $1.8 billion.
  • Oil, $1.2 billion.

The top U.S. exports to Mexico in February were:

  • Gasoline, $2.5 billion.
  • Auto parts, $1.4 billion.
  • Natural gas, $1 billion.
  • Computer chips, $940 million.
  • Computers, $769 million.

Mexico moves up to 4th-largest global auto parts producer

Mexico was the fourth-largest auto parts manufacturer in the world during 2021, according to the Mexican National Auto Parts Industry Association (INA).

Mexico produced $94.78 billion worth of auto parts in 2021, a 21% increase from $78 billion in 2020.

Alberto Bustamante, INA director, said the increase was due to greater demand for regional value content for passenger vehicles in the manufacture of auto parts to comply with provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

To remain duty free, vehicles assembled in North America must have 75% of their components made in the North American region, according to USMCA.

Mexico moved past Germany as a top global auto parts producer, according to the INA data, released Wednesday. The top global auto parts producers in 2021 were China, $470 billion; the U.S., $228 billion; Japan, $172 billion; Mexico, $94 billion; and Germany, $87 billion.

Arizona to receive $315M for upgrades, expansion of ports of entry

The state of Arizona will receive $315 million for improvements to three ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, aimed at streamlining cross-border trade and border security.

The funds include improvements to the existing port of entry in Douglas and more than $200 million for the construction of a commercial port about 4 miles west of Douglas. The new Douglas port of entry is scheduled to be completed in five years.

An additional $115 million will be spent on modernizing the San Luis I port on the Arizona-Mexico border near the California state line, and an undetermined amount will be used at the Raul Hector Castro port in Douglas.

The funds are Arizona’s share of $3.4 billion in federal funding that will be used at 26 land ports of entry on the Northern and Southern borders, part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

  • CBP seizes $9 million in meth from commercial trucks at the border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recently intercepted $9 million worth of methamphetamine in two cases at the U.S.-Mexico border.

On March 25 at the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge in Laredo, Texas, CBP officers discovered more than 219 pounds of meth worth $4.3 million in a tractor-trailer arriving from Mexico carrying a shipment of waterproof sealant.

The second incident was on March 30, when an empty tractor-trailer arrived from Mexico at the Ysleta port of entry in El Paso, Texas. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered 548 pounds of liquid meth in the truck’s fuel tank. They said it has a street value of $3 million.

No arrests were immediately made in either case. Both cases remain under investigation.

Watch: FreightWaves’ Zach Strickland and Anthony Smith talk about the freight industry with Parker McNamara of Project 44 .

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More articles by Noi Mahoney

Texas now inspecting all commercial vehicles entering from Mexico

BNSF planning massive intermodal, logistics hub near Phoenix

Quincus eyes growing Latin American e-commerce markets

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 Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]