The research was completed by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, the University of Texas at El Paso, and Colegio de la Frontera Norte, in partnership with the US Department of State

Washington DC – September 27, 2022 – A 10-minute reduction in wait times for northbound traffic at the US-Mexico border could lead to an additional $26 million worth of cargo entering the United States by commercial vehicles per month, according to new research from the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. These increases translate to more than $312 million in additional commerce from Mexico into the United States annually.

Researchers also find that reducing border wait times by 10 minutes has a positive annual impact of $5.4 million on the US economy due to purchases by additional families and individuals entering the United States from Mexico. This, in turn, promotes the creation of nearly 18,700 direct and indirect jobs in Mexico.

These findings are the result of a year-long project in partnership with the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the University of Texas at El Paso’s Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness (UTEP), and Tijuana’s Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF). The results were released today during the launch of the project’s first economic impact study “The Economic Impact of a More Efficient US-Mexico Border: How reducing wait times at land ports of entry would promote commerce, resilience, and job creation.”

“New thinking on the future of our border has the potential to enhance shared commerce while addressing long-standing efficiency and security challenges. This report demonstrates the economic impact that new investment in border infrastructure and management practices can have on communities across the United States and Mexico,” said Jason Marczak, Senior Director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Center.

The economic impact study estimates the effects of enhanced border management practices – including detection, assessment, and screening measures –on efficiency and security outcomes at the US-Mexico border. It is informed by virtual consultations across the border and in-person 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.

“The impacts of what we are talking about are more than just shorter wait times at the border; a lot more. Border innovation will improve North American competition with China and keep our economy strong, proving that our open society and open markets can thrive while clamping down on illicit trafficking at the same time. This is another way we’re keeping citizens safe on both sides of the border,” said Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the US Department of State.

As the United States and Mexico continue to advance their relationship, a forward-looking approach to the border is more salient than ever before. The launch of this report comes after US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met in Washington, DC, in July 2022, to discuss the route to a safer and more efficient shared border. During their meeting, the United States and Mexico respectively committed to investing $3.4 billion and $1.5 billion on border infrastructure projects.

“Strengthened US-Mexico collaboration at our border will unlock significant economic growth, promote supply chain resilience, and boost competitiveness, benefiting Mexican workers and families. These benefits will reverberate far beyond the border, reaching states throughout Mexico. Now is the time to invest in initiatives to create an even more efficient and secure shared border,” said Subsecretary of International Commerce Luz Maria de la Mora at Mexico’s Secretariat of the Economy.

The report was released today in Washington DC at an event including Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary Tobin Bradley, and New York Times Foreign Affairs Correspondent Natalie Kitroeff. A second publication in winter 2022 will disaggregate the economic and security impacts of enhanced border management practices at both the state and county level in Mexico and the United States.

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About the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
The Atlantic Council’s nonpartisan Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center (AALAC) broadens understanding of regional transformations while demonstrating why Latin America and the Caribbean matter for the world. The center focuses on pressing political, economic, and social issues that will define the region’s trajectory, proposing constructive, results-oriented solutions to inform public sector, business, and multilateral action based on a shared vision for a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable future.

AALAC – home to the premier Caribbean Initiative – builds consensus for action in advancing innovative policy perspectives within select lines of programing: U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere; Colombia’s future; Venezuela’s multidimensional crisis; Central American prosperity; US-Mexico ties; China in the Americas; Brazil’s trajectory; Caribbean development; regional economic development and commerce; and energy transitions. Jason Marczak serves as the center’s senior director.

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