WASHINGTON: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs (Servicio de Administracion Tributaria/Aduana Mexico or SAT) on Friday formally dedicated a new center at the Laredo, Texas, to allow both agencies to more efficiently work together to process freight trains crossing the border. The agencies were joined by officials from the Kansas City Southern, which invested in the construction of the new rail processing facility. “The ongoing collaboration and partnership efforts between CBP, SAT/Aduana Mexico and Kansas City Southern have yielded an innovative approach to processing increased rail traffic through the largest rail corridor on the Southern Border in a way that helps both countries realize their security and facilitation priorities,” CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner said in a statement. The new facility, located close to the railhead of the Laredo International Rail Bridge, will allow Mexican Customs to complete its outbound inspections and CBP to perform inbound inspection processes simultaneously, eliminating delays and duplication while maintaining security and facilitating lawful commerce, CBP said.
Specifically, the agencies will share Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) security scanning images, conduct Mexico export processing at the U.S. railhead, streamline documentation review of northbound trains, and carry out joint inspections, when necessary, on inbound shipments. “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,” said KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer. The Laredo/Nuevo Laredo rail crossing is the busiest along the U.S.-Mexico border, processing on average 23 trains in both directions every 24 hours. According to CBP, northbound rail traffic alone at the border crossing has increased 16.5 percent in 2017 and is expected to continue growing. In addition to petroleum and petro-chemicals, these trains carry large volumes of automobiles and parts, steel and grain. “Eliminating stopping trains on the bridge would increase velocity and fluidity of train movements over the border, which is important for all stakeholders,” KCS said. “Keeping trains moving increases security and throughput, while reducing traffic congestion within the city limits of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.”