North America Works

*Read Jon Barela's Statement on the Border Adjustment Tax Here

The Borderplex Alliance launched the North America Works campaign to elevate the facts on the how trade and cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico bring economic prosperity to both countries. Working together as one North American economic force allows us to compete globally with other regions of the world such as the Asia/Pacific region. Using the voice of North American Borderplex leaders and joining forces with other Texas and national organizations, The Borderplex Alliance continues to ensure that the benefits or working together to develop stronger border and trade policies will protect and grow jobs and investments across both countries and will strengthen commerce and economic prosperity along the U.S.-Mexico border.

NAFTA has had many positive outcomes for both the U.S. and Mexico, as well as mutually beneficial for the North American Borderplex — allowing companies to establish twin plants in the region that include moving goods across the border in the manufacturing process. Our relationship has increased trade and investments and is a strong driver of employment in the North American Borderplex. The trade agreement, nonetheless, was established more than 20 years ago and market changes have occurred in both nations, which should be accounted for. With this in mind, a renegotiation of NAFTA is welcome, but only if it would strengthen the partnership that currently exists between the United States and Mexico and grows the investments and jobs that have been created in the region, Texas and the nation.

This is a critical time for the region. The Borderplex Alliance was created to give our region a voice in Washington, Austin and Mexico City; a voice that is needed now more than ever.  With the help of our supporters, we will elevate regional concerns, showcase the benefits of the U.S.-Mexico economic relationship and shape the development of these proposals and their impact on the North American Borderplex.

El Paso alone accounts for $21.1 billion in exports to Mexico each year

Impact of NAFTA

Source: WalletHub

U.S. - Mexico Trade: Did you know?

  • 40 percent of U.S. imports from Mexico are originally of U.S. origin.
  • Six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.
  • There are 48 legal border-crossing sites between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • $1.4 billion per day crosses the U.S. - Mexican border.
  • Mexico is the U.S.’ 2nd largest destination for exports and 3rd largest source of imports
  • Nearly half of U.S. states count Mexico as their first or second export market, while it represents a top-five market for three-quarters of the states.
  • Mexico was Texas’s number one export market with a value totaling $94.5 billion USD as of Feb. 2016.
  • South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Nebraska send more than 20 percent of their exports to Mexico.
  • Key U.S. industries depend on Mexico, as illustrated by the top export categories in 2015: machinery, mineral fuel and oil, vehicles, and plastics.
  • Due to the size and integrated nature of the North American auto industry, Detroit exports $10.9 billion in goods to Mexico, more than any other metropolitan area.

Trade Between Texas and Mexico

Mexico is Texas’ number 1 export market. In 2016, Texas exported $92.7 billion worth of goods to Mexico, representing 39 percent of its annual $233 billion exports to other countries. Top Texas exports to Mexico include:

  • Computer and Electronic Products
  • Petroleum and Coal Products
  • Transportation Equipment
  • Appliances and Component Chemicals
  • Electrical Equipment

Texas has a trade surplus with Mexico.  In 2016, it sent $92 billion worth of goods across the border while importing $84 billion. This totals $177 billion worth of trade between Texas and Mexico.

Trade between Texas and Mexico supports approximately 382,000 jobs in Texas. Additionally, travelers from Mexico make up the largest source of tourism for Texas with approximately 7.7 million visitors that spend 4.5 billion annually.

Trade with Mexico helps support local jobs and economic activity in many of Texas’ major cities. Mexico accounts as a major export destination for:

  • Laredo, TX - $26.1 Billion
  • El Paso, TX - $22.9 Billion
  • Hidalgo, Texas - $8.5 Billion
  • Houston, TX - $5.9 Billion
  • Brownsville, TX - $5.1 Billion
  • Dallas, TX- $1.3 Million

Texas has Benefited from NAFTA

Fact: Since the enactment of NAFTA, Texas's exports to Mexico have increased by 354.7 percent and reached $92.7 billion last year.

Graph showing growth in Texas's exports to Mexico
Source: U.S. Census with adjustments made by the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research (Wiser), and SE-NAFTA. 1993-1996 by SIC, and 1997-2016 NAICS.

The Impact of Trade with Mexico Goes Beyond the U.S.-Mexico Border

Fact: Border States are major trading partners with Mexico, but so are states in other regions of the country.

US jobs supported by trade with Mexico graph
Source: Wilson, Christopher. How Trade with Mexico Impacts Employment in the United States. Wilson Center. November 2016.

Our Priorities Moving Forward

Change is coming to NAFTA, and for those of us who live and work along the border, NAFTA 2.0 is a chance to advocate for policy changes that can have a significant, positive impact on the border.

There are at least five ways in which NAFTA can be modernized and improved.

  1. Revising the Agreement to include energy is a sound starting point. Imagine a “North American Energy Union” between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In 2013, the Mexican constitution was amended to allow foreign investment in oil and natural gas exploration. Beyond traditional sources of energy, renewables hold much promise and were a nascent sector in 1994. Solar, wind and geothermal trilateral accords should be pursued. A modernized North American energy grid should also be considered so that low energy costs to industry and consumers could place the region at a significant economic advantage over Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.
  2. Second, infrastructure investments and improvements would not only speed the delivery of goods and diminish border crossing lines, but it would also ensure a more secure border. By combining technology and capital, perhaps through public-private partnerships, we could optimize processes which would make North America the most globally competitive region in the world.
  3. Third, significant improvements can be made to the environmental side agreement in NAFTA. Again, many advances were made in the past two decades regarding water conservation, air pollution reduction, and disease-related environmental research. The best ideas incubated in universities, national labs, and small business could become commercialized while improving North America’s quality of life.
  4. Fourth, it’s time that labor issues be revisited, including addressing documented and undocumented immigration once and for all. Surely, there would be a great deal of give and take, but it’s best to address immigration in trilateral talks rather than pursuing the issue in a xenophobic vacuum. Security is a crucial matter that all three countries share. Why shouldn’t all three nations seriously discuss mutual threats, including those coming from terrorist groups abroad? Why not enter into an accord with Mexico to identify ways it can secure its own southern border, where many of the undocumented immigrants first make their journey northward? Why not use technology to improve the TN visa program to allow for an orderly and secure flow of labor?
  5. Indeed, a final point involves technology and telecommunication. Of course, the world is much different today. E-commerce didn’t exist in 1994, and the internet was in its infancy. It is time to examine how technological advances could positively affect job growth and ease commerce bottlenecks like endless border crossing lines and product shipment delays. Small businesses and start-ups could be assisted by lowering barriers associated with e-commerce.

Standing united against a Border Adjustment Tax

As efforts get underway to reform the nation's tax code, many of the concepts to simplify and reduce the tax burden on American businesses and individuals are worthy of support. One plan, the Border Adjustment Tax, should be rejected.

Better termed a "consumer tax,” the BAT neither simplifies America's tax code nor does it reduce the tax burden on our citizens.

There are problems. Revenues generated under the BAT will be far outweighed by the increased costs that will be passed along to hard-working American families.

The average new car sold in America would be an additional $2,500, a gallon of gasoline would cost 30 cents more, and parents should expect to spend an additional $53 for back-to-school clothing and supplies. If BAT were adopted, lower-income Americans would feel the biggest hit and shoulder a proportionally larger burden.

Advocacy Efforts

January 2017 Advocacy Trip to Washington

As the new administration and the 115th Congress began their work, few issues loomed as large as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation.

In January 2017, U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke (TX-16) invited Borderplex CEO Jon Barela to Washington to testify on how the border's business is America's business (WATCH). In addition to his testimony before the Congressional Border Caucus, Barela spent two days meeting with Congressional leaders and staff including U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Representative Will Hurd (TX-23).

The Borderplex’s priorities were highlighted in a national NBC News story and several local and state outlets such as the Dallas Morning News, El Diario de El Paso, and the El Paso Times. An interview Barela did with EFE - a Spanish news wire - resulted in coverage and pick up from more than a dozen outlets across Mexico, Spain, and Central and South America.

View a PDF of Jon Barela's Congressional Testimony

February 2017 Advocacy Trip to Austin

In mid-February, more than 70 community leaders took to the halls of the Texas Capitol during the 2017 El Paso Days in Austin to meet with Texas State Senators, Representatives, and their staff. Thanks to Richard Dayoub and the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, a coalition of government, business, and civic leaders came together to advocate on behalf of the Borderplex. Jon Barela spent time meeting with Carlos González Gutiérrez, Cónsul General de México in Austin, making it clear that the Borderplex is ready to work with Mexico to ensure the best possible outcomes for us all.

From El Diario de Juarez to the El Paso Inc to The Washington Post, the media continues to look to the Borderplex as experts on the U.S.-Mexico border. We have had the opportunity to host reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and more, and Borderplex will continue to find ways to engage with the media to make sure our points of view are a part of their narrative.