The Cross-border Connection

At Laredo International, a renewed focus on growing cargo traffic and looking south

The goal, he says, is to offer Central American exporters an alternate port of entry into the U.S. market, an entry that would facilitate access to all of the NAFTA super-trade corridor, from South Texas all the way up to the Canadian border. “At the moment we have about 50 companies, exporters and logistics companies from Central America that have signed up for this conference,” says Flores.

“But it’s not stopping there. We’ve gotten into Columbia, Brazil, and even gotten into some of Spain. So it’s opening up to others to consider the Port of Laredo.

“When we were in Panama the Panamanians talked to us about their interest in developing a food hub, where Central American countries would ship to Panama and South American countries would ship to Panama. They would consolidate there to get better transportation rates, and then have the ability to further process in Panama – converting apples to apple sauce, as an example.

“We signed two MOUs [memorandums of understanding] with Panama. One is an MOU for overall trade; the second MOU is to look at cooperating and trying to link Loredo International Airport with the airport in Tecumen or the airport at the former Howard Air Force Base.”

Recent developments include a new warehouse complex at the south end of the airfield, and a FedEx center on the east side. Says Flores, “If we look at the capacity we have for the simultaneous parking of more cargo aircraft, we can park approximately 35 Boeing 757s on concrete.”

Representative Cuellar adds that the city is working to set up Mexican Customs onsite at Laredo International to pre-clear goods going into Mexico. “I don’t think we have to change any of our laws, but Mexico will have to look at changing some of their laws to do that,” he says. “We’re trying to be the first in the country to have Mexican clearance of goods here in the U.S. going into Mexico.”

The airport also hosts one of eight Foreign Trade Zones in the region, all of which are administered by the city. “We promote the whole city for that purpose,” says Flores.

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