Posted at 11:56 AM
On Tuesday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined U.S. and Mexican government leaders in Brownsville, Texas, at a ceremony to inaugurate the West Rail Bypass International Bridge, the first new international rail crossing between the United States and Mexico since 1910.
During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the deep and growing commercial partnership between our two countries; the vital importance of the U.S.-Mexico border to our bilateral economic ties; and the need for action to spur North American competitiveness in the increasingly globalized economy of the 21st century.
Secretary Pritzker noted how the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to the creation of jobs and opportunity for both U.S. and Mexican communities. Yet, at the same time, our commercial crossings at the border were not modernized after NAFTA came into force, leaving us with infrastructure that was built to handle roughly a quarter of our current trade volume.
To address these challenges and to ensure that our border region remains a staging ground for greater commercial and economic activity long into the future, Secretary Pritzker and her U.S. and Mexican partners have pledged to make the West Rail Bypass only one part of a long-term, concerted effort to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to develop a modern, efficient, and secure border. Because, as the Secretary stated, “we cannot wait another 100 years before we inaugurate the next new bridge or road connecting our countries.”
To that end, we are prioritizing the development and execution of border infrastructure projects as part of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). So far, in addition to the West Rail, we have seen some progress. For example, we have reduced wait times from 3 hours to roughly 30 minutes at the port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana, the busiest land crossing in the world. And we more than doubled the capacity at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry; now, that facility can handle trucks as many as 4,000 a day – up from about 1,600 – and process up to $35 billion in goods each year.
This is only the beginning. Our focus on infrastructure will continue long into the future, as we seek to advance the vision of the HLED: to support a vibrant, competitive North American economy, and to make it easier for U.S. and Mexican companies to do business together.
Before the West Rail event, Secretary Pritzker met with a delegation of business leaders from Brownsville to discuss how the city can capitalize on its strategic location and leverage Department of Commerce resources to spur new economic growth and opportunities for local workers and families.