Meeting addresses trade challenges between U.S.-Mexico

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs convened via video conference this week to bring together stakeholders from throughout the Texas-Mexico border region to advance initiatives to address challenges related to international trade with Mexico.

Bulletin staff

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs conducted a Border Trade Advisory Committee meeting this week to bring together stakeholders from throughout the Texas-Mexico border region to address challenges related to international trade with Mexico.

Co-hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation, Hughs and committee members were joined in the conference by representatives from each of Mexico's adjoining border states with Texas, as well as by representatives of the Mexican federal government, according to a news release from Hughs’ office.

"Because the economies of Texas and Mexico are mutually interdependent, now more than ever, because of COVID-19, we must continue to not only maintain but also strengthen our lines of communication," Hughs said.

Following a TxDOT presentation outlining border infrastructure investments, cross border traffic volume and border crossing wait times, committee members provided feedback specific to challenges facing their respective communities, including the impact of COVID-19, the release states.

The Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan, expected to be completed in 2020, is designed to identify transportation infrastructure challenges, solicit feedback from stakeholders throughout the border region, and implement long-term strategies for continuing to facilitate cross-border trade.

Input gathered at BTAC meetings helps identify areas in which local, state, and U.S. and Mexican federal officials can coordinate to improve efficiency in the movement of freight, goods, and people across Texas' 28 ports of entry, the release states.

In addition to the transportation master plan currently in the works, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is slated to take effect July 1, ending a nearly three-year process to modernize the North American trade agreement, according to a news release from the Brown County Farm Bureau.

"The USMCA's entry into force marks the beginning of a historic new chapter for North American trade by supporting more balanced, reciprocal trade, leading to freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in North America," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer in the release.

Increased agricultural market access was a key point for agricultural organizations, including Texas Farm Bureau, when advocating for the USMCA.

"Texas farmers and ranchers are currently operating in a world of uncertainty," said Brown County Farm Bureau president Jule Richmond in the news release. "Strengthening our relationships with our North American trading partners through USCMA will only help during this difficult time."

Texas farmers and ranchers will benefit by increased access to Mexican and Canadian markets across a variety of commodities, including dairy, beef, poultry and eggs, fresh produce and more, Richmond added.

The updated agreement also addresses technical barriers to trade that previously limited U.S exports to Canada of alcoholic beverages, cheese and grains and oilseeds.

A study conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission showed USMCA is expected to increase U.S. agricultural and food exports by $2.2 billion annually, the release states.

"We were already facing years of declining farm income and increased input costs and a prolonged trade war with China. The COVID-19 pandemic just added more stress and uncertainty," Richmond said. "Any new market access and stability will help, and we're ready to move forward with increased access to our top trading partners."