Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico

Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico

Millions of jobs and critically important economic activity are at stakeNPI report cover
Because our collective economic security is a public policy issue of primary importance, it is critically important to understand what works and what doesn’t work. Measured in any number of ways, trade with Mexico definitely works. Mexico is our nation’s number two export market in the world and our number three trading partner (imports and exports). Bilateral trade is estimated to have reached $535.9 billion in 2012, surpassing even 2011’s half-trillion record amount of trade. In addition, Mexico is our nation’s second most important foreign tourism market as well as the fourth-ranked in terms of spending by tourists. Six million U.S. jobs depend on our trade with Mexico.

Investment in ports of entry is key
Key policies and infrastructure can either help or hinder this enormous economic exchange. Forty-seven U.S.-Mexico land ports of entry facilitate several hundreds of billions dollars in U.S.-Mexico trade every year. Ideally, ports of entry should act as membranes, facilitating healthy interactions (such as legitimate trade and travel) and preventing unhealthy ones (such as illicit drugs, firearms and human smuggling). And ideally much of the actual inspection and clearance should occur “upstream” from the ports. Broad bipartisan agreement has developed on the need to improve our land ports of entry with Mexico. This is because over seventy percent of NAFTA trade flows through these ports of entry as well as an enormous flow of visitors who have a major economic impact on the United States. Twenty-three states have Mexico as their number one or number two trading partner, multiplying jobs in both countries.

The North American Research Partnership is engaged in ongoing research and outreach on the United States’ commercial relationship. This report is part of an continuing process of research and outreach and builds on two previous papers produced with NPI by North American Research Partnership Director Erik Lee and a team of researchers, “Realizing the Value of Crossborder Trade With Mexico” and “Realizing the Full Value of Tourism from Mexico to The United States.”

The report, which can be downloaded here, was presented in Washington, DC on May 8 with presentations from Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Tucson, Arizona Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

Project lead:
Erik Lee, Executive Director, North American Research Partnership,

Project Team:
Rick Van Schoik
Alejandro Figueroa
Leah Fiacco