‘Business as usual’ along Texas-Mexico border

Trade continues to flow normally across eight ports of entry in South Texas along the Texas-Mexico border, according to officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The CBP Laredo Field Office held a conference call Tuesday to update the impact of the coronavirus on trade.

“The flow of trade is continuing at all our eight ports of entry. Nothing has changed,” said Armando Taboada, assistant director of field operations at the Laredo Field Office. “Northbound traffic, southbound traffic, we’re all doing well.”

Taboada said no customs personnel have been moved around because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do have all of the officers inside the, as an example, World Trade Bridge [in Laredo]; we have a number of officers there. We still have the same number of officers at the merchandise enforcement dock, the same officers at the export docks,” Taboado said. “Nothing has changed. We are taking more precautions like everybody else is doing.”

Port Laredo sees around 16,000 trucks cross its bridges daily. Wait times in Laredo (WAIT.LRD) for commercial trucks was around 148 minutes, according to FreightWaves SONAR Wait Times Index.

Wait times in minutes are up across the U.S. with freight volumes spiking due in part to panic buying at supermarkets across the country. Image: FreightWaves SONAR

In addition to the Laredo port of entry, the CBP Laredo Field Office oversees U.S. ports of entry along the Mexican border in the cities of Roma, Del Rio, Brownsville, Eagle Pass, Hidalgo, Rio Grande City and Progreso.

Mexico was the U.S.’s largest trading partner in 2019, with more than $614 billion in two-way trade, according to census data compiled by WorldCity Inc.

The majority of Mexico trade passed through Texas, with the ports of Laredo and El Paso topping $227.4 billion and $76.8 billion, respectively. The ports of Pharr, Eagle Pass, Brownsville and Houston were also in the top 10.

Taboada said there are no plans to close any of the ports along the U.S.-Mexico border and CBP will “stay open and have personnel manning our cargo facilities.”

“We technically don’t close the border; we are always available,” Taboada said. “Sometimes you see traffic not flowing. That could be because maybe on the Mexican side they decided to close some Mexican customs offices down.”

Taboada asked carriers and brokers to be proactive about checking and reacting to drivers who may seem ill or have the coronavirus.

“If you have drivers that are sick, it’s the same rules that we would follow for our family members and also for our co-workers: Please advise the driver not to show up because the last thing we want to do is for this to spread or create a little panic about people getting sick and then creating an impact,” Taboada said.

In addition to land ports and international bridges, the CBP Laredo Field Office oversees seven international airports, three international rail bridges and the Brownsville Seaport.