BROWNSVILLE, TX: The U.S. and Mexico have opened the first new international rail crossing between the two countries since 1910.
The inauguration of the West Rail Bypass International Bridge linking Brownsville with Matamoros coincides with latest NAFTA statistics from the U.S. Department of Transport that saw a 4.4 percent rise in the value of U.S. trade with Mexico in June with gains for truck, rail and air modes.
June rail imports from Mexico rose 12.8 percent while exports fell 5.9 percent compared to the same month last year.
The value of monthly freight flows between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners jumped 6.8 percent from May to June to US$99.0 billion said the DoT. The value of trade with Mexico under NAFTA has risen to over US$530 billion since 1994.
Commenting on the opening of the new rail link, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (right, center) noted that while NAFTA had led to the creation of jobs for both U.S. and Mexican communities, the legacy infrastructure at border crossings had not kept pace with the current trade volume. Both countries have pledged to modernize the commercial access points as she added: "We cannot wait another 100 years before we inaugurate the next new bridge or road connecting our countries."
In addition to the West Rail opening, Mexico and the U.S. have reduced wait times from three hours to 30 minutes between San Diego and Tijuana, the busiest land crossing in the world, and doubled the capacity at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry to handle 4,000 trucks daily and process US$35 billion in two-way trade each year.
Republican presidential election candidate Donald Trump has proposed Mexico should pay to build a wall across its border with the U.S. to keep out "criminals and rapists" according to one report. Pritzker said the Obama administration preferred to focus on expanding trade with one of America's most important business partners.