Borderlands: MexicoNewsTrucking

US-Mexico border trading hubs continue to struggle

China top US trade partner in August but Mexico remains No. 1 year to date

International ports along the United States-Mexico border continued to post double-digit declines in trade as the global economy struggled to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two-way trade at Port Laredo fell 19% to $126.49 billion through the first eight months of the year, dropping the port to No. 4 among the nation’s 450 airports, seaports and border crossings in 2020, according to the latest Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity

For the month of August, Port Laredo totaled $18.62 billion in trade, ranking it No. 3 behind the Port of Los Angeles and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Trade at the Port of El Paso in West Texas plunged 55% to $23.56 billion for the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The El Paso port of entry ranked No. 29 for total trade through August of 2020 and 30th for the month of August.

According to FreightWaves SONAR data, outbound trucking volumes have increased sharply in Laredo and El Paso over the past week, which could result in upward pressure on rates.

Outbound volumes in Houston, McAllen, New Mexico, and San Diego either climbed moderately or dropped slightly from last week.


Other ports along the U.S.-Mexico border posting declining trade numbers from January through August include:

  • Port of Port Arthur, Texas, $7.11 billion, down 48.12%.
  • Port of Beaumont, Texas, $7.81 billion, down 46.45%.
  • Santa Teresa port of entry, New Mexico, $15.78 billion, down 23.53%.
  • Eagle Pass port of entry, Texas, $16.75 billion, down 16.47%.
  • Nogales port of entry, Arizona, $15.51 billion, down 16.79%.
  • Calexico/Mexicali port of entry, California, $234.75 million, down 15.43%.
  • Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Texas, $20.88 billion, down 15.09%.
  • Otay Mesa port of entry, California, $28.39 billion, down 12.52%. 
  • Brownsville International Bridge, Texas, $11.25 billion, down 11.9%.

While not located on the U.S.-Mexico border, international trade at Port Houston fell 21.82%, from $107.21 billion to $83.81 billion through the first eight months of 2020.

Trade at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston fell 29.55%, from $10.08 billion to $7.1 billion from January through August, while trade at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport declined 13.68% to $33.99 billion during the same period.

For the month of August, China was the top trading partner for the U.S., totaling $51 billion in two-way trade. Mexico was second at $46.9 billion, followed by Canada at $46.6 billion.

Year to date through August, Mexico was the  top U.S. trade partner, totaling $337.48 billion. Exports totaled $134.53 billion and imports totaled $202.95 billion, a deficit of $68.42 billion.

The top exports from the U.S. to Mexico year to date include:

  • Gasoline and fuels $11.54 billion, down 33% compared to 2019.
  • Motor vehicle parts $7.48 billion, down 36%.
  • Computer chips $7.24 billion, up 38%.
  • Computer parts $4.92 billion, down 39%.

The top U.S. imports from Mexico year to date include:

  • Passenger vehicles $17.27 billion, down 33% compared to 2019.
  • Computers $17.1 billion, down 3%.
  • Commercial vehicles $13.54 billion, down 21%.
  • Motor vehicle parts $13.15 billion, down 24%.
  • Oil $5.99 billion, down 30%.

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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