U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske stressed the role of CBP in improving cross border trade with Mexico at the Woodrow Wilson Center on June 12 in Washington, D.C. The Commissioner joined a panel of distinguished speakers invited by the Border Trade Alliance to share ideas on “Envisioning a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border.” The event was attended by business, trade and government officials from the U.S. and Mexico, including Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Eduardo Medina Mora.
Commissioner Kerlikowske noted that U.S. exports to Mexico have grown nearly 160 percent since the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted 20 years ago, while Mexico’s exports to the U.S. have grown approximately 400 percent. “CBP plays an important role in keeping our economies flowing, while ensuring safety and security,” the Commissioner explained. “In 2013, an average of $768 million of cargo and commodities crossed into the U.S. from Mexico each day.”
The Commissioner described the ongoing transformation of CBP’s operations at ports of entry, optimizing personnel and resources while seeking additional funding through public-private partnerships and other possible options such as user fees. He also noted that CBP is streamlining its cargo export processing so that American businesses will be better able to compete in the world marketplace. U.S. trade supports more that 38 million jobs and the Obama administration has made it a top priority to improve the conditions that affect the private sector’s ability to export its products to consumers who live outside of our borders.
Infrastructure improvements will also play a role in improving trade with Mexico. The Commissioner cited the recent completion of four new traffic lanes, which have doubled cargo capacity at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry, where more than half of Mexican winter produce enters the U.S. He also noted that CBP is working on the cross border airport terminal project at the Tijuana Airport that will improve travel for U.S. and Mexican passengers.
Remaining economically competitive as a region “requires a collaborative and proactive engagement with all players, public and private,” the Commissioner said. “The relationships that we have built in the last few years with our Mexican partners have enabled unprecedented collaboration.”