US-Mexico Border Under Pressure of COVID-19By Cas Biekmann | Wed, 03/25/2020 - 15:11
It is no secret that US President Donald Trump has strong opinions about Mexico. The Guardian reported that despite COVID-19 spreading in the US, the infamous border wall would continue its construction via various contractors. But US government rhetoric often differs from the trade reality between countries, which sees strong interaction happen on a daily basis. Nonetheless, a serious pandemic might shift the status quo for travel between the countries, either momentarily or in the long term.
Although positions shift constantly, Mexico is usually in the Top 3 of the US’ trade partners, accompanied by Canada and China. Put in numbers, the US sends more than US$256 billion of goods to Mexico and imports US$358 billion from Mexico. With USMCA on its way, connections will likely only deepen further. Regardless of Trump’s wall being built across 150 miles of land, the border between the US and Mexico is crossed frequently from both sides. With the arrival of COVID-19, however, the US government has instigated strong migration measures, even at the border with Canada. Cargo and workers may pass, but non-essential travelers, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, are shunned.
Businesses might find hope in last Saturday’s twitter announcement from Mexican President López Obrador. In his message, López Obrador said he had spoken with his US counterpart and both agreed on keeping their shared border open. Furthermore, both presidents discussed implementing the USMCA agreement as fast as possible to boost economic recovery. Despite the positive note, local businesses on both sides of the border, as well as larger industries needing to travel between both countries to keep their operations running will nervously follow developments. Even though trade is essential enough to keep the borders open for the moment, an increase in infections might destabilize the balance at any moment.