Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Port of Eagle Pass, Texas, fastest-growing border crossing in the U.S.; Port of Brownsville snags Westa flour mill; Siete Leguas Automotive opens $54M factory in Durango, Mexico; and CBP intercepts $18M worth of meth in shipment of squash.

Port of Eagle Pass, Texas, fastest-growing border crossing in the U.S.

EAGLE PASS, Texas — One U.S.-Mexico border crossing has experienced the most rapid trade growth since the beginning of the year: the Port of Eagle Pass.

The port is the fastest-growing major port among the nation’s 450 airports, seaports and border crossings, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

“No other border crossings are growing at the rate of Eagle Pass,” Ken Roberts, CEO of Miami-based WorldCity, said at the 4th annual Port of Eagle Pass Trade Summit on Thursday. 

The Port of Eagle Pass consists of a rail and vehicle bridge connecting it to Piedras Negras, Mexico. Eagle Pass is a city of about 28,255, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. It is located about 140 miles southwest of San Antonio. 

Eagle Pass has recorded more than $11.37 billion in trade from January through March, a 22% year-over-year increase compared to the same period last year. In 2023, the Port of Eagle Pass recorded a total of $37.14 billion in two-way trade with the world.

The Port of Eagle Pass consists of a rail and vehicle bridge connecting it to Piedras Negras, Mexico. (Photo: City of Eagle Pass)

While Eagle Pass was the fastest-growing border crossing in the U.S., Port Laredo, Texas, remains the No. 1 ranked port in the country. From January through March, Laredo recorded a 2% year-over-year increase in two-way trade with the world to $79.8 billion. 

Driving the Port of Eagle Pass’ growth in 2024 are imports of commercial vehicles ($2.5 billion), passenger vehicles ($2 billion) and beer ($906 million). The port’s top exports year to date are auto parts ($307 million), gasoline ($289 million) and soybeans ($215 million).

“The main reason that I’ve seen the growth in Eagle Pass in the past two years, specifically since September 2021, is related to rail,” Ben Escarcega, director of contract logistics and transportation at Yusen Logistics, said during the summit.

Escarcega was part of a panel discussion titled “The Future of Eagle Pass Automotive Exports and Imports.” Yusen Logistics is a Tokyo-based global freight forwarding company that provides warehousing, distribution and supply-chain services.

For the first three months of 2024, imports of passenger vehicles from Mexico to the U.S. through the Port of Eagle Pass rose 110% year over year.

“When Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern and Kansas City Southern de Mexico merged, that made a significant impact in the market,” Escarcega said. “Then Union Pacific aligned with Ferromex, which I consider to be the biggest reason for the growth of the border region here in Eagle Pass.”

Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern officially merged in April 2023, forming CPKC (NYSE: CP). The combined network spans across both coasts of Canada, traversing through the U.S. Midwest, and reaches several points in Mexico, including the Port of Lazaro Cardenas on Mexico’s Pacific coast. CPKC has said the network offers single-line service to shippers.

About the same time the CPKC merger was finalized, Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) announced a new line called Falcon Premium Intermodal Service. The intermodal service is a partnership with CN (NYSE: CNI) and Grupo Mexico’s Ferromex rail service, creating connecting points in Mexico and Canada through Eagle Pass and Chicago.

“Now Yusen uses the [Port of Eagle Pass] more than ever, especially for these commodities,” Escarcega said. “The presence of Union Pacific and especially to the investment Union Pacific has made here in Eagle Pass, as well as in San Antonio, is going to continue to support this port. Ferromex is the only rail connecting Piedras Negras to Eagle Pass. That relationship is paramount to the growth of this port now and moving forward.”

Union Pacific and track tenant BNSF Railway currently operate 15 to 18 trains daily across the Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras International Railway Bridge.

A second rail and truck bridge has been proposed in Eagle Pass, a project known as the Puerto Verde Global Trade Bridge. It would construct a second cross-border rail and truck freight bridge between Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, adding more freight capacity to the port.

To keep its momentum growing, real estate expert Carlo Molano said the Port of Eagle Pass must stay focused on the commodities that are already flowing through the region.

“Don’t chase after another city, don’t chase Laredo, don’t chase San Antonio; you have your own strengths. You have to look at your strengths and your weaknesses, understand them and play off of them. Don’t try to become something that you’re not. Become a better version of who you are,” Molano said during a panel discussion titled “The Future of Eagle Pass Industrial Real Estate.”

Port of Brownsville snags Westa flour mill

Westa Inc. plans to invest $20 million to build a wheat flour mill at the Port of Brownsville, the port recently announced.

Westa will develop more than 10 acres at the Port of Brownsville Business Park, becoming the park’s first tenant. The facility will employ 120 people.

“The Port of Brownsville’s strategic location, world-class facilities, and commitment to reliable service make it the ideal partner for our expansion plans,” Zaur Kafkas, president of Westa Inc., said in a news release. 

Kafkas told that the first phase of construction for the flour mill will be completed in 2025.

The Port of Brownsville Business Park will be at the turning basin of the Brownsville Ship Channel. The park is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Westa Inc. is a wholesaler in the food industry, specializing in food products and agricultural commodities. The company has corporate offices in Miami and Toronto.

Siete Leguas Automotive opens $54 million factory in Durango, Mexico

Siete Leguas Automotive recently opened its second auto-parts factory in the city of Gomez Palacios, in the Mexican state of Durango.

The $54 million facility will produce auto parts for original equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar Inc., John Deere, Suzuki Motor Corp., BRP Inc. and Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies. 

The new facility will create 300 jobs, bringing the total workforce to almost 500 employees between the two plants.

Siete Leguas Automotive is based in Gomez Palacio and was founded in 2018.

CBP intercepts $18 million worth of meth in shipment of squash

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recently discovered 11,469 pounds of methamphetamine in a truck at the Otay Mesa port of entry, just south of San Diego.

The case occurred Monday when CBP officers were checking a tractor-trailer from Mexico carrying a shipment of squash.

Border officials recently discovered 11,469 pounds of methamphetamine in a truck at the Otay Mesa port of entry in Southern California. (Photo: CBP)

Officers found 1,419 packages concealed within the shipment of squash, containing $18 million worth of methamphetamine. 

CBP officers seized the narcotics and the tractor-trailer. The driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

The post Borderlands Mexico: Port of Eagle Pass, Texas, fastest-growing border crossing in the U.S. appeared first on FreightWaves.

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