TREND: The top 10 U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry in terms of total merchandise trade in 2020 showed strong signs of improvement in March, with 7 of them increasing in the January to March 2021 period compared to the same period last year. The ports leading these increases were Laredo Port of Entry (PoE) with a gain of roughly US $2.8 billion, Hidalgo PoE with a gain of roughly US $2.0 billion, and El Paso PoE with a gain of about US $1.6 billion. Moreover, 8 of the 10 exhibited monthly gains in March compared to February and 9 of the 10 exhibited year-over-year gains compared to March 2020.
•In the January to March 2021 period, 7 of the top 10 ports exhibited increases in total trade compared to the same period in 2020. Laredo PoE led the gains with an increase of about US $2.8 billion (5.1%), followed by Hidalgo PoE with an increase of about US $2.0 billion (22.0%), and El Paso PoE with an increase of approximately US $1.6 billion (8.2%).
•On the other hand, Nogales PoE decreased during this period by about US $823 million (-11.5%), Santa Teresa PoE decreased by about US $450 million (-6.4%), and Del Rio PoE decreased by about US $72 million (-5.9%).
•In total, the top 10 ports increased during the January to March 2021 period by roughly US $6.7 billion (5.3%) on a year-over-year basis.
•When comparing the January to March 2021 period to the January to March 2019 period, 6 of the top 10 ports increased and as a whole the top 10 ports increased by about US $5.6 billion (4.4%).
Top 10 U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry for Total Trade with World, million USD
Note: Top 10 in 2020. El Paso PoE includes Ysleta PoE. YoY denotes year-over-year; MoM denotes month-over-month.
Source: Hunt Institute calculations using U.S. Census Bureau data.
•On a monthly basis, 8 of the top 10 ports exhibited increases in March with respect to February. The top 3 ports from 2020 led the way with Laredo PoE increasing by roughly US $4.3 billion (24.4%), El Paso PoE increasing by roughly US $1.3 billion (20.3%), and Otay Mesa PoE increasing by roughly US $705 million (18.6%). Hidalgo PoE decreased by roughly US $456 million (-10.7%).
•With respect to March 2020, 9 of the top 10 ports increased in March of this year, with gains led by the top 4 ports. Laredo PoE, El Paso PoE, Otay Mesa PoE, and Hidalgo PoE exhibited gains of approximately US $3.0 billion (15.7%), US $1.5 billion (24.4%), US $721 million (19.1%), and US $691 million (22.1%), respectively.
TAKEAWAY: Total merchandise trade exhibited notably positive signs in March, with nearly all of the top U.S.-Mexico ports increasing on a year-over-year basis and the majority of them increasing during the first quarter of 2021 compared to both last year and 2019. While other concerns in the broader economy remain, the recovery in large part to year-prior levels is an important sign.
* Since 2014, the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness at The University of Texas at El Paso has provided economic analysis of the Paso del Norte Region that includes the binational communities of El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The mission of the Hunt Institute is to produce high-quality market analysis tools that can strengthen regional and binational cross-border economic and social development. Twitter: @HuntPasoDeNorte