El Paso-Juarez business leaders share a unified trade agenda

Chambers of commerce and industry groups from both sides of the border are meeting in El Paso for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – If it were up to Cindy Ramos-Davidson, she would put many frontier workers on a plane and fly them to Washington, DC

There, the delegation would advocate more staffing and technology at ports of entry, more federal infrastructure funding for border communities, and immigration reform to fill a growing number of vacancies in service and other industries.

Then she would put the delegation on another plane and have the same discussion about trade in Mexico City.

“If you look at us, we’re El Paso-Juarez-New Mexico, we’re a huge region. There is so much coming through our region that we all need to talk, communicate and educate each other better about what we are doing, how we are doing it and how we are doing it together,” said the CEO of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce of El Paso.

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (photo border report)

Ramos-Davidson was among the panellists at a binational trade forum Wednesday sponsored by the El Paso Community Foundation and the Mexican Consulate in El Paso. The meeting at the foundation’s office marked the first time business leaders from Juarez and El Paso have met in a single location since the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants pledged to plan future summits and refine regional business advocacy efforts.

The forum shed light on a region where trade volume is good but could be better if cross-border cargo inspections were quicker and more trucks could be diverted from sprawl.

“We have a number of new manufacturing facilities looking to come in. But if we have 10, 12, 15 new ones maquiladoras If we ship cargo (to the United States), our international bridges will collapse,” said Nora Yu, president of the Juarez Customs Brokers Association. “We need more infrastructure in the ports that we have and are also developing the ports in Tornillo, Texas and Santa Teresa, New Mexico if we are to look to the future.”

Commercial trade volume at ports of entry in the El Paso area. (US Department of Transportation graphic)

Thor Salayandia, President of the Juarez Chamber of Commerce, agrees that bottlenecks in Juarez due to trucks waiting to enter the US are not uncommon

“This not only causes losses for the export industry when drivers have to be paid for waiting in line, but also increases the risk of further air pollution,” he said.

The US federal government has allocated $600 million for improvements to the Bridge of the Americas, and the City of El Paso is also planning improvements around the Ysleta Port of Entry.

Yu reiterated Ramos-Davidson’s call for business leaders in El Paso and Juarez to rally around a common agenda and bring the case to federal officials in both countries.