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Greg Abbott is still a threat to international trade

This is at best window dressing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott relented Wednesday, agreeing to ease the additional safety inspections of trucks at the busiest border entry point near Laredo in exchange for promises of more border security by Mexican officials along one 8-mile stretch of the border.

The move comes after Abbott endured days of withering criticism from both Democrats and Republicans and faced pushback from shipping companies and the Texas Trucking Association.

Since he implemented the more thorough inspections a week ago, truck traffic at many of the Texas ports of entry have stalled. In Laredo, the nation’s biggest trucking port, the normal 30 minutes or less to get across ballooned to three hours or longer, delaying shipments of everything from produce to electronics and driving up costs for trucking companies.

But Abbott said on Wednesday that the easing of inspections is only happening along the 8-mile stretch of border with Nuevo Leon, which has just a tiny portion of the 1,254-mile border with Texas. Abbott said he’s talking to leaders of other Mexican states to work out similar agreements in return for speeding up inspections in Texas.

“Since Nuevo Leon has increased its security on its side of the border, the Texas Department of Public Safety can return to its previous practice of random searches of vehicles crossing the the bridge from Neuvo Leon,” Abbott said with the Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Alejandro García Sepulveda at his side.

[…]

In Mexico, the governor’s order triggered a revolt from truckers who have set up blockades shutting off all U.S. trucks from entering the country at key points in Hidalgo County and in El Paso.

The White House slammed Abbott on Wednesday, saying his actions were resulting in more supply chain disruptions and hindering U.S. Customs checks at the border.

“The continuous flow of legitimate trade and travel and CBP’s ability to do its job should not be obstructed,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in the statement.

Even Abbott’s biggest allies began to turn against his policy over the last few days. The Texas Trucking Association, which just two months ago endorsed his re-election, released a statement criticizing the policy.

“Unfortunately, this new initiative duplicates existing screening efforts and leads to significant congestion, delaying the products Americans rely on from our largest trading partner, Mexico,” TXTA President & CEO John D. Esparza said.

See here and here for the background. The TXTA is welcome to reconsider their endorsement, since it might be occurring to them that Abbott will throw anyone under the bus (or the truck, as it happens) to further his own political fortunes. Can we pause to note that this is a governor engaging in a combination of foreign policy and blatant extortion, neither of which are supposed to be in his job description? What’s scary to me is that it’s not clear what power the federal government has here to make him stop. Our entire system is based on the presumption that everyone in a position of power will more or less follow a basic set of rules and norms and expectations, and if there’s one thing that the last few years have made especially clear, it’s that there’s not a whole lot we can do when bad actors refuse to play along. I’m at a loss here.

TPM summarizes as follows:

The U.S. continues to be wracked by supply chain disruptions and inflation. This move seems designed — and well designed — to exacerbate both. Abbott’s calculation, probably accurate, is that he can create chaos and price spikes to pressure Biden and it’s no skin off his back since Biden will be blamed anyway. It’s all gravy.

Literally, the one thing that can be done is to vote Abbott out in November. That would not only put a stop to these particular shenanigans, it would also send a clear message that there is a price to pay for political vandalism. The problem is that if Abbott wins, and he’s certainly favored to do so right now, the exact opposite message gets sent. It’s one that Republicans have been getting for over a decade now, and it has very much incentivized more and more of this same malevolence. I don’t know what else to say. The Trib, the Current, TPM, and the Trib again have more.

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8 Comments

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    Meaningless….small potatoes. It shouldn’t even be a story. Not a threat to international trade.

  2. Ross says:

    Paul, you are just wrong on this. Stopping trucks for no real reason while the cargo rots is a threat to international trade, and will cause prices to go up. Abbott is a grandstanding asshole.

  3. Paul Kubosh says:

    Ross very small amount of trade. Everyone who believes that crap is just not knowledgeable about trade. Unreal how little yall know. Very, very small amount of products he slowing down.

  4. C.L. says:

    School us, Paul ! How much trade IS coming across the border from Mexico ?

    Please be specific with regards to type of commodities and the values associated with same. You can break it down into vehicles, electrical machinery, machinery, agricultural products, mineral fuels, and optical and medical equipment if you’d like, as well as what products coming across the border remain in Texas and what are just passing through Texas to parts north.

    The automobile category should be easy for you to research, what with the 30+ auto manufacturing plants scattered throughout the country to our south.

  5. policywonqueria says:

    U.S.-Mexico Trade Facts

    In 2019, Mexico GDP was an estimated $1.3 trillion (current market exchange rates); real GDP was up by an estimated 0.1%; and the population was 126 million. (Source: IMF)

    U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $677.3 billion in 2019. Exports were $289.5 billion; imports were $387.8 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Mexico was $98.5 billion in 2019.

    Mexico is currently our largest goods trading partner with $614.5 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2019. Goods exports totaled $256.6 billion; goods imports totaled $358.0 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico was $101.4 billion in 2019.

    Imports

    Mexico was the United States’ 2nd largest supplier of goods imports in 2019.
    U.S. goods imports from Mexico totaled $358.0 billion in 2019, up 4.0% ($13.7 billion) from 2018, and up 102.6% from 2009. U.S. imports from Mexico are up 797% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). U.S. imports from Mexico account for 14.3% of overall U.S. imports in 2019.

    The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2019 were: vehicles ($101 billion), machinery ($66 billion), electrical machinery ($64 billion), optical and medical instruments ($16 billion), and mineral fuels ($13 billion).

    U.S. total imports of agricultural products from Mexico totaled $28 billion in 2019, our 1th largest supplier of agricultural imports.

    Leading categories include: other fresh fruit ($6.9 billion), fresh vegetables ($6.3 billion), wine and beer ($4.0 billion), snack foods ($2.3 billion), and processed fruit & vegetables ($1.8 billion).

    U.S. imports of services from Mexico were an estimated $29.8 billion in 2019, 6.8% ($1.9 billion) more than 2018, and 92.0% greater than 2009 levels. It was up roughly 301% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). Leading services imports from Mexico to the U.S. were in the travel, transport, and technical and other services sectors.

    Source: https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/americas/mexico

    USTR = {Office of the] United States Trade Representative

  6. Frederick says:

    Meaningless…flat potatoes.

    It shouldn’t even be a story.

    Doesn’t everyone know potatoes are flat like the Earth?!

  7. Manny says:

    Only Kubosh knows the rest of us who do not believe as he does are idiots, the Word according to Paul Kubosh.

  8. Frederick says:

    Paul,

    “Meaningless…small potatoes”?

    I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

    https://www.axios.com/texas-border-delays-abbott-inspection-costs-ba048e06-6b98-44d8-820c-979a716400dd.html