Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Port Laredo remains the nation’s No. 1 gateway for international trade; rail cargo thefts were up 29% during Q1 in Mexico; a Taiwan automotive supplier is investing $1 billion for Mexico expansion; and Forza Steel is building a plant at the Port of Brownsville. 

Laredo, Texas, remains the nation’s No. 1 gateway for international trade 

For the second straight month, Laredo, Texas, retained the No. 1 spot among the nation’s 450 international gateways for trade.

During March, Laredo recorded a 12% year-over-year (y/y) increase in total commerce to $28.6 billion, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport ranked No. 2 and reported $26.4 billion in trade, while John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was No. 3 with $23.4 billion.

The Port of Los Angeles, which held the No. 1 spot for most of 2022, fell to No. 4 in March, accounting for $22.1 billion in trade.

Mexico also ranked as the United States’ top trading partner for the fourth consecutive month in March, with total trade increasing 4.5% y/y to $72 billion.

Canada ranked No. 2, as its total trade with the U.S. decreased 5% y/y to $69 billion in March. China ranked third with trade falling 26% y/y to $45 billion.

Exports from Laredo to the world increased 9% y/y to $10.9 billion and imports increased 14% y/y to $17.7 billion.

Auto parts ($2.3 billion), passenger vehicles ($1.1 billion) and heavy-duty trucks ($1.1 billion) were the top three imports from Mexico to the U.S. through Laredo.

Fresh produce season in Mexico has been in full swing since early March, with Laredo accounting for $211 million in imports of strawberries and blueberries and $121 million in avocados during the month.

The top exports from the U.S. through Laredo were auto parts ($1.4 billion), gasoline ($334 million) and diesel engines ($284 million).

Commercial truck crossings in Laredo increased 5.5% y/y to 262,109 vehicles in March, while April recorded a 3.5% y/y increase to 230,534 tractor-trailers.

As of Friday, the Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index (ROTVI.LRD) in Laredo was up about 2% week over week, helped by Mexican produce crossing the border, according to FreightWaves SONAR. On a y/y basis, Laredo’s outbound reefer load volume is up 49%.

Helped by produce imports arriving from Mexico, reefer load volumes through Laredo, Texas, are up 2% week over week and 49% year over year. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Rail cargo thefts up 29% during Q1 in Mexico

Mexico’s commercial rail sector saw a spike in cargo thefts during the first quarter of 2023, recording 580 robbery incidents.

According to Mexico’s rail transport regulatory agency, the northwestern state of Sinaloa recorded the most cargo theft cases from January through March with 34 incidents. 

The state of Sonora ranked No. 2 with 31 cargo theft reports, followed by Jalisco with 27 incidents during the first quarter.

The most stolen commodities were food products, construction material, consumer goods and industrial materials. 

Taiwan auto parts supplier announces $1B expansion in Mexico

Taiwan-based auto electronics manufacturer Quanta Computer is investing $1 billion to expand its manufacturing operations in the Mexican of Monterrey.

The Taiwan-based manufacturer opened the Monterrey factory last year, where it produces a computer that helps to control different functions of a vehicle.

Quanta has not specified where the $1 billion in funding will be used, but officials for the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon said the investment will expand Quanta’s existing operations in Monterrey, according to Reuters.

Quanta Computer is a supplier to electric vehicle maker Tesla, which is building a $5 billion factory in Monterrey.

The expansion reportedly will create 2,500 jobs. The factory currently has a workforce of over 2,000 employees.

The company employs over 70,000 people worldwide, with operations in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

Forza Steel to build plant at Port of Brownsville

Forza Steel announced an investment of $60 million to build a manufacturing facility at the Port of Brownsville in South Texas.

The factory, which will create 150 jobs, will produce steel pipes and tubes for the automotive, construction and oil and gas industries.

The 650,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in July, according to a news release.

The Port of Brownsville is located 277 miles south of San Antonio at the southernmost tip of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. It is the only deepwater seaport located along the border.

Forza Steel said it expects to import 260,000 metric tons of raw material annually from Mexico to the Brownsville facility to produce 240,000 tons of steel tubular products. The company is headquartered in Salinas Victoria, Mexico, about 165 miles south of Brownsville. 

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The post Borderlands: Laredo remains nation’s No. 1 gateway for international trade appeared first on FreightWaves.

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