Texas Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew additional inspections for vehicles from one part of Mexico on Wednesday because the U.S. domestic conflict over immigration policy has led to delays threatening billions of dollars in international trade.
Additional checks introduced by Abbott last week – which he said were aimed at reducing crime and increasing vehicle safety – added hours to normal crossing times and led to long backlog at important entry ports along the Texas-Mexico border more than 1,200 miles long.
Truck drivers south of the border blocked some of the entry points in protest of harsh measures, adding chaos and further threatening supply chains already under load.
Speaking at a news conference with Samuel Garcia, the governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, on Wednesday, Abbott said Texas would return to the previous practice of random inspections at common ports of entry. García said he agreed that part of the border would be continuously patrolled by state police.
“The bridge from Nuevo Leon and Texas will immediately return to normal,” Abbott said.
However, this move will alleviate congestion at only one crossing for now.
Most of the southern border of Texas is shared with the states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. Abbott said he had been contacted by those governors and that talks would begin as early as Thursday, hinting at his intention to resolve the trade dispute in partial state-level affairs.
“I look forward to working with all of them to achieve results similar to those we are achieving today with Governor Garcia,” he said, adding that additional checks would be introduced in the meantime.
Abbott, who is about to be re-elected in November, introduced additional checks amid a domestic battle with the Democratic Biden administration over federal immigration policy. Border control measures, however, have angered local Republican business leaders.
Mexico, which is the largest trading partner of the United States, also protested that more than 440 billion dollars of annual trade flows passing through entry points in Texas are in danger.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said Wednesday that Abbott’s measures were unnecessary, damaged jobs and raised prices.
As leaders spoke, trucks continued to face long delays in crossing the border. The blockade at two important crossings in Ciudad Juarez was lifted on Wednesday, local media reported.
Industries from carmakers to agriculture have been hit by delays. Daniel Gudiño, executive director of Mexican lime exporter SiCar Farms, said his company had citrus stuck at crossings that were in danger of spoiling.
“If this continues, the supply chain and supplies will be cut off,” he said. “Consumers at the end of the day will always be hardest hit because prices will stay high or rise again.”
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