(Laredo, Texas) Kansas City Southern (KCS) (NYSE: KSU) president and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer joined officials representing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs (SAT) Thursday in the dedication of a new, joint Unified Cargo Processing facility at the Laredo, Texas railroad border-crossing.
The objective of this new facility is to share Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) security scanning images; conduct Mexico export processing at the U.S. railhead; streamline the documentation review of northbound trains; and conduct joint inspections, when needed, on inbound shipments.
During the week that U.S., Mexican and Canadian trade representatives begin opening negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. and Mexican customs officials are dedicating this new facility to improving the fluidity and security of this vital, cross-border rail corridor.
“As our governments begin the important work of updating the North American Free Trade Agreement this week, we must all remember the importance of the NAFTA trade relationship to both countries and both economies,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer. “This project, and others to follow, are essential to facilitate the goal of expanding trade and particularly increasing exports of goods such as refined petroleum products and petro-chemicals from the U.S. to Mexico.”
The Laredo/Nuevo Laredo rail crossing is the busiest on the U.S.-Mexico border, processing on average 23 trains in both directions per 24-hour period, and carrying a wide variety of products such automobiles and parts, steel, grain and petroleum products. It is vital to the economic security of both countries. CBP, Mexico Customs, KCS and Union Pacific are committed to continually improving this border-crossing for security, safety and efficiency through government and private sector collaboration. Eliminating stopping trains on the bridge would increase velocity and fluidity of train movements over the border, which is important for all stakeholders. Keeping trains moving increases security and throughput, while reducing traffic congestion within the city limits of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
“This project is a model for how communities, governmental authorities and private enterprises can work together to create outcomes that benefit everyone and strengthen our relationships with our key trading partners and neighbors,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer.
Demand for rail shipments across this busiest international rail gateway in both directions will continue to increase in the future, particularly with growth in U.S. agricultural and future energy exports to Mexico. New and innovative ways to keep this trade moving securely and efficiently over the border will be needed in the future to expand trade between the U.S. and Mexico and make North America even more competitive.
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, CBP deputy executive assistant John Wagner, Mexican SAT assistant commissioner Gerardo Suarez Hasbach, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, and Nuevo Laredo bilateral affairs coordinator Edgar Parra and sixth councilman of the municipal council Gerardo Peña joined Ottensmeyer at the dedication.