President Forgoes U.S.-Mexico Border Closing

After rattling some government officials and industry associations with the threat of closing the U.S.-Mexico border, the administration backed off of that suggestion last week, instead relying on Mexican officials to take corrective measures. Many see the decision to keep the U.S.-Mexico border open as a near miss for economic calamity, suggesting that even a temporary closing would post severe consequences for U.S.-based companies, including glass and glazing companies, and the economy.

The U.S. imports close to a half-billion dollars in flat glass, mirror, aluminum fenestration and related products from Mexico each year, according to International Trade Centre’s most recent calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau data. In addition, the U.S. exports hundreds of millions of dollars in flat glass, mirror and related products to Mexico. The parent company of Vitro Architectural Glass, a major supplier of float glass in the U.S., is based in Mexico, though the company produces many of its products in the U.S. Saint-Gobain also plans to construct a new float line in Mexico to meet growing demand in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Earlier this year, the company opened a new jumbo coater in Morelos, Mexico.

With approximately $1.7 billion in goods crossing the U.S.-Mexico border each day, officials for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggest that a closing would, “inflict severe economic harm on American families, workers, farmers and manufacturers” nationwide.

At a time when the U.S. leverages tariffs in attempts to level the playing field between domestic and foreign-based material providers, amid a border closing, global competitors would swoop in, suggests Plastics Industry Association interim president and CEO Patty Long, looking to take advantage of any opportunity to shift U.S.- and Mexico-based companies to overseas providers.

It would also preclude the passing of workers to and from opportunities between U.S.- and Mexico-based businesses, says Congressperson Joaquin Castro, chairperson of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and vice chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A closing would affect Texas more than any other state, he suggests.

“Millions of dollars in trade pass through the U.S.-Mexico border each day, and billions every year,” Castro says, adding that, “Many U.S. companies rely on the ability to send and receive goods to and from Mexico.” American workers cross the border to work at American companies in Mexico, he says, as do families living on either side of the border to visit relatives.

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