Reducing wait times at US-Mexico border would lead to broad economic benefits

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by Emily Atkins
Greater efficiencies at the US-Mexico border – a subject when Presidents Biden and López Obrador met last month – will yield new economic growth and improve competitiveness for states on both sides of the border.
New data, released by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, show that a mere 10-minute reduction in wait times – without any additional action – can create thousands of Mexican jobs, grow the gross domestic product (GDP) of several Mexican states, and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new spending in the US.
The report found that increasing border efficiency by 10 minutes can result in more than 3,000 additional jobs across Mexico’s six border states while increasing their combined annual GDP by US$2.2 billion. Tamaulipas would see the greatest growth in GDP followed by Baja California and Chihuahua, with benefits then spread across cross Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Sonora.

More goods, more money

The wait time reduction would allow for nearly $26 million in additional goods to enter the United States every month and lead to $547,000 in extra spending across the four US border states (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas). About 60 percent of the 388 additional cargo containers that would enter the US every month would come through Texas ports of entry. California would take in nearly half of the additional spending due to more streamlined – and more secure – efficiencies in non-commercial crossings.
The research, published by the Atlantic Council in collaboration with the University of Texas at El Paso’s Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness and Colegio de la Frontera Norte, is the second report of a two-part study conducted in partnership with the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Findings are the result of a year-long project and were informed by a series of virtual and in-person consultations, roundtables, and focus groups carried out in Washington DC, El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and Tijuana, Mexico, as well as economic analyses of data from the United States and Mexico.
“We should think of this baseline reduction of ten minutes as the starting point for even shorter wait times and even greater economic gains and job creation. It’s more imperative now than ever,” said Jason Marczak, senior director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.