Borderplex statistics show major economic activity

A cargo truck enters Mexico through the Santa Teresa port of entry after leaving New Mexico on November 12. (Roberto E. Rosales/Diary)

The Borderplex region includes El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and southern New Mexico.

It is one of the largest manufacturing and distribution bases in North America. I periodically monitor Borderplex trade and production statistics to monitor trends. Two excellent sources for researching and producing statistics are the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, which publishes a variety of reports on various industry sectors, and Customs and Border Protection, which tracks private and commercial traffic at major port crossing points in the region. Borderplex.

In its El Paso Economic Indicators report, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank (referred to as the “Dallas Fed”) found that trade in the El Paso district increased by 2.9% or $121.3 billion. in November. This increase is explained by a growth in imports of 6.8%, while exports fell by 1.9%. This reflects national trends, as Americans continue to drive up demand for imported goods. The Ysleta port of entry is still the Borderplex’s main port gateway, accounting for 56.8% of trade in the region. An interesting development is that the Port of Entry of Santa Teresa in New Mexico has overtaken the Central Bridge of the Americas of El Paso to move into second place (21.7% vs. 20.9%, respectively) in terms of exchanges in the region.

In December, the Dallas Fed announced that the monthly US industrial production index, which uses a scale to measure rises and falls, fell to 102.3 from 101.8 in October. This is an increase of 5.3% compared to 2020. The same index for Mexico rose from 97.8 in September to 98.4 in October. That’s 1.6% more than in 2020. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index was 60.8 in October and rose to 61.1 in November. It is up 3.4% from 2020. According to the ISM, continued supply chain disruptions are leading to shortages of materials and the availability of production inputs. Combined with congestion at seaports of entry, understaffed operations and transportation issues, these factors affect this particular index, which has direct relevance to the Borderplex region. ISM notes that it is seeing slight improvements in delivered supplies and labor availability.

According to the Dallas Fed, production of automobiles and light trucks in the United States reached 9.1 million units in November, compared to 8.7 million units in October. Interestingly, auto sales fell to 12.9 million in November from 13 million in October. The Dallas Fed notes that these metrics are important for the Borderplex region because about half of the maquiladoras (twin plants) in Juárez are auto-related. The huge production of vehicles in Mexico has created an automotive component supplier base in El Paso and Santa Teresa that supplies Mexican companies with items such as automotive textiles, copper wire, sensors, aluminum and electronic components. I’m in constant contact with suppliers who feel supply chain disruptions first hand and struggle every day to deal with them.

Some indicators such as trade have a time lag and were not ready in the December report. However, the Dallas Fed tracks southern New Mexico on a quarterly basis. In its fourth quarter report, the bank noted that in October, total trade at the Santa Teresa port of entry increased 3.5% from September to $30.2 billion. This is explained by an increase in exports of 11.5% ($13.3 billion) and a drop in imports of 2% ($16.9 billion).

CBP port crossing figures show that commercial crossings at the Port of Ysleta increased 7% in 2019 from 2018 and 1% in 2020. The Port of Santa Teresa increased 16% in 2019 from 2018 and 5% in 2020 compared to 2019. Over the same period, the Bridge of the Americas decreased by 22% and 20% respectively. Final figures for December 2021 are still being processed, but preliminary figures indicate that all three ports will experience an increase in commercial traffic.

Final December figures for private vehicle crossings at Borderplex ports are still being processed, but with 2,801,747 crossings in 2021, the Bridge of the Americas remains the preferred choice for travelers. This figure was down from 4,090,774 in 2018. Ysleta follows with 1,487,322 travelers in 2021, compared to 3,478,650 in 2018. The port of entry of Santa Teresa is the third with 401,878 travelers in 2021, compared to 528,921 in 2018. Needless to say, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the ability of non-essential Mexican travelers to pass through Borderplex ports in 2020 and 2021, however, private vehicle crossings in the three ports increase in the future, especially if the pandemic decreases later this year.

These statistics from the Dallas Fed and CBP indicate how the Borderplex region has become a major center of activity for trade, production and commerce. And while the pandemic has affected some sectors, the region is rebounding and should return to pre-pandemic levels shortly. In real time, this region adds billions to each respective state and creates thousands of jobs.

Jerry Pacheco is the executive director of the International Business Accelerator, a nonprofit business counseling program of the New Mexico Small Business Development Centers Network. He can be reached at 575-589-2200 or [email protected]

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