Chamber: Trade and Security Along Border Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Jun 14, 2011

With more than $1 billion worth of goods traded between the U.S. and Mexico every day, a secure and efficient U.S.-Mexico border is a priority for the U.S. Chamber and the American business community.

However, delays and other inefficiencies at the border cost the U.S. and Mexican economies an estimated $7.2 billion in gross economic output and an estimated 62,000 jobs.

In an effort to remove those obstacles, the U.S. Chamber has released a report, Steps to a 21st Century U.S.-Mexico Border, that makes a series of proposals addressing trade facilitation, supply-chain security, infrastructure, immigration, and travel issues that define the border and determine its efficiency.

“How we manage the U.S.-Mexico border is essential to our commercial partnership, security, supply chains, economies, and ultimately, jobs for our citizens,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber.  “This relationship is too significant to allow delays and other inefficiencies at the border that erode the competitive advantage that NAFTA created.”

The report details a series of steps the U.S. must take to create a modern and efficient 21st century U.S.–Mexico border:

  • Focus on security, but trade facilitation and security should be viewed as mutually conducive. No factor is more fundamental to future investment, economic growth and job creation than security and the rule of law. Investment in the Merida Initiative, a U.S.-sponsored $1.6 billion multi-year partnership with Mexico to address criminal organizations, must be increased, and the private sector must serve as a partner in achieving the goals of the initiative.

  • Facilitate the flow of trade at the border. Deploy technology to manage congestion; allow shippers to participate in trusted shipper programs; increase staff at ports of entry; and commit to measure border wait times and track them with benchmarks and defined goals.

  • Significantly invest in infrastructure. Adding capacity at ports and land crossings, increasing the number of lanes at border crossings, and creating more dedicated lanes for commercial traffic are essential.

  • Pursue immigration reform. Immigration reform could help substantially alleviate the strain on our border, while adding to the economic vitality of our country. History shows that an increase in the number of legal immigrants and temporary guest workers means a decrease in illegal immigration.

“The Chamber is committed to advancing the recommendations in this report, and we remain committed to working with the governments of Mexico and the United States to make our vision for a world-class border a reality once and for all,” Donohue said.

To release the report, Donohue was joined by Tom Ridge, the chairman of the U.S. Chamber’s National Security Task Force and the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico President Jose Zozaya, and Ann Beauchesne, vice president for the Chamber’s Office of National Security and Emergency Preparedness.

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