Washington D.C.- National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) President Rufus Yerxa today sent a letter to Kevin McAleenan, current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, regarding the concerns among large sectors of the U.S. business community about the slow-downs in clearing commercial cargo at the U.S. – Mexico border.
“While we are relieved that the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship is no longer under imminent threat from a full border closure, the relocation of CBP officers who work on cargo clearance to assist with border patrol operations has led to major delays to the supply chains of some of our most competitive industries,” said Rufus Yerxa. “This is disrupting manufacturing plants here in the U.S. and will cause immediate harm to workers and consumers throughout the country. It is crucial that the Administration refrain from causing such harm and work together with Congress to maintain smooth and efficient commercial operations at our southern border.”
The full text of the letter:
The Honorable Kevin McAleenan
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and
Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Dear Mr. Secretary:
On behalf of the members of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), we are writing to express our serious concerns about measures being taken by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S. – Mexico border. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relocated 750 CBP officers who work on cargo clearance at U.S. ports of entry to assist with Border Patrol operations. Since this measure was implemented, commercial cargo has experienced significant delays and back-ups at border crossings, many lasting four to five times the normal wait times. As a result, vital goods and commodities are not reaching their U.S. destinations on time.
NFTC companies are leaders in the autos, technology, food, retail and logistics sectors of the American economy. They play a significant role in the $1.5 billion trade in goods that cross that border each day and they depend on this two-way trade to support American manufacturing, transportation and services jobs. They also depend on smooth and efficient commercial cargo operations at the border to enable this trade to flow.
While we fully understand the importance of improving border security and addressing the serious concerns relating to immigration, it is vital that the Administration and Congress find a way to address these problems without impeding the free flow of commerce between the two countries.
While we appreciate that the Administration is no longer threatening to close the border to all traffic, U.S. manufacturers, retail and service providers depend on the “on time” arrival of their cargo. Delays at the border have a ripple effect over time and create collateral damage for auto production lines, U.S. manufacturing operations, retailers and consumers. Because of delays and uncertainty at the border, U.S. companies are being forced to reroute cargo through other ports of entry, a costly exercise that may not always be possible since certain types of cargo are more efficiently, and sometimes exclusively, moved via truck.
We understand that the need for resources at the border has been the motivating factor in the redeployment of CBP personnel and that this redeployment is the root cause of the slowdowns we are describing. However, we urge your department to work together with Congress to ensure that resources are not diverted from the commercial mission of CBP. We also urge you to ensure that the Secretary of Commerce, who has the responsibility of promoting and expanding U.S. business, is fully engaged in your consultations with Congress. Severely constricting the ability of U.S. manufacturers, retailers and service providers to move cargo across our southern border will jeopardize the economic strength of the U.S. economy and will negatively impact American consumers and our most dynamic and productive companies.
We strongly urge you to take these concerns into account and to work towards a quick solution that preserves the ability of cross-border trade to contribute to the health of our economy.
National Foreign Trade Council
Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
Honorable Ron Johnson, Chairman, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental
Honorable Ron Wyden, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance
Honorable Gary C. Peters, Ranking Member, Senate Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Committee
Honorable Richard Neal, Chairman, House Committee on Ways and Means
Honorable Bennie Thompson, Chairman, House Committee on Homeland Security
Honorable Kevin Brady, Ranking Member, House Committee on Ways and Means
Honorable Mike Rogers, Ranking Member, House Committee on Homeland Security
Honorable Earl Blumenauer, Chairman, Subcommittee on Trade, House
Committee on Ways and Means
Honorable Vern Buchanan, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Trade, House
Committee on Ways and Means
About the NFTC
Serving America’s Global Businesses Since 1914– The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules- based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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