PHARR, Texas (Border Report) — Traffic disruptions at several international bridges in Texas earlier this month, caused by enhanced truck inspections ordered by the governor, cost the state $4 billion, a Texas economic consulting firm says.
The Perryman Group estimates the daily losses to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) totaled $996.3 million with Texas losing $470.3 million daily, as the delays led to supply chain issues and had a multiplier effect throughout Texas and the United States.
The week-long economic slowdown and shutdown at international bridges along the border, including a three-day closure of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge that began April 11, cost the state $4.233 billion in gross product, the report found.
Nationwide, GDP was affected by a loss of nearly $9 billion, according to the Perryman report published Wednesday.
And the report warned the massive losses will be difficult to make up, and in some cases, “impossible.”
“The recent slowdowns due to additional inspections disrupted these patterns, resulting in not only spoilage of perishable items, but also production delays. Given the strained capacity at the border in normal times, it will be difficult and, in many instances, impossible to ‘catch up,'” the report said.
The losses in Texas are equivalent to losing 36,330 job years. Nationwide, the losses are the equivalent of 77,019 job years. A job year is one person working for a year.
The report also chastised the prioritizing of border security over the national supply chain.
“Inefficiencies in the flow of imports and exports across the border leads to notable economic losses. While border security is certainly an issue that must be addressed, introducing artificial inefficiencies into an important, capacity constrained element of an already overly stressed national supply chain is a costly option,” the report found.
The Pharr-Reynosa International bridge in Pharr, Texas, is the busiest land crossings for fruits and vegetables from Mexico and the three-day bridge shut down cost truckers, suppliers and the community dearly.
The City of Pharr estimates $1 billion in losses in South Texas from the shutdown, which was caused when Mexican truckers in Reynosa blocked access to the bridge. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials then closed the bridge because cars and trucks could not freely cross.
A recent report released by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley said the recent economic losses suffered not only in Texas, but nationwide, tied to bridge closures should exemplify how important international ports of entry are to our nation’s economic wellbeing.
“The Texas Border Region, by its very nature is highly connected to international commerce. The recent, if temporary, decision by the Texas Governor to institute enhanced inspections of Mexican trucks along the Texas – Mexico border reminds us that international trade is much bigger than the ports that oversee its flows or the trucks that sit hours on end patiently awaiting their turn to reach a customs officer. It also affects available inventory at our local stores and the prices we pay at the counter,” according to the UTRGV report, “The End of Globalization: Texas-Mexico Border Ports Trends.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott initiated the mandatory trucker inspections to better patrol the Texas/Mexico borders, he said. State troopers from the Department of Public Safety conducted intensive Level 1 inspections lasting upwards of one hour each on every truck that crossed the bridges.
Abbott signed the orders for the inspections on April 6, but by April 13 he had begun to strike deals with Mexican officials in various border states that agreed to step up their truck inspections. That led Abbott to scale back truck inspections on the U.S. side and truck traffic resumed flowing more freely across the border.