Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Port Laredo was the No. 2 gateway for international trade in November; Tesla acquired a massive logistics center near Houston; the Port of Brownsville set a record for steel cargo tonnage; and First Call Logistics launched a Texas logistics hub.

Port Laredo No. 2 gateway for international trade in November

Port Laredo was the No. 2 port of entry among the nation’s 450 international gateways for trade in November, behind Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Trade at Port Laredo for November increased almost 14% year over year (y/y) to $24.6 billion from the same month a year ago and was down 8% y/y compared to October, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

Imports from Mexico to the U.S. accounted for $15 billion in trade through Port Laredo, while exports accounted for $9.6 billion.

Auto parts ($1.87 billion), passenger vehicles ($1.1 billion) and heavy-duty trucks ($897 million) were the top three imports from Mexico to the U.S.

The top exports from the U.S. to Mexico were auto parts ($1.03 billion), gasoline ($351 million) and diesel engines ($340 million).

Commercial truck crossings in Laredo increased 5% y/y to 232,423 vehicles in November. For the first 11 months of 2022, Laredo processed 2.15 million truck crossings, a 2% y/y increase compared to the same year-ago period.

O’Hare’s total trade for November was $26.4 billion. The Port of Los Angeles ranked No. 3 at $21.4 billion.

As of Friday, the freight market in Laredo was up about 8% in outbound load volume (OTVI.LRD) week over week after a huge spike in trade in December, according to FreightWaves SONAR. On a y/y basis, Laredo’s outbound load volume is down 2%.

Outbound tender volumes in Laredo (OTVI.LRD) are just beginning to rebound after falling after the holidays. SONAR: To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Tesla acquires massive logistics facility near Houston

Automaker Tesla has leased a 1.03 million-square-foot logistics facility in Brookshire, Texas, about 38 miles west of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The cross-dock facility is located at the 300-acre Empire West Business Park just off of Interstate 10 and includes 196 dock bays for trucks, four ramps and 326 trailer parking spaces, according to a brochure

The Empire West Business Park is located about 50 miles from Port Houston and 340 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) is also in the process of a $775 million expansion of its gigafactory in Austin, Texas, where the company has its headquarters. The expansion includes increased manufacturing capacity for the company’s electric vehicles, as well as new battery and cathode production capabilities. 

The company also has reported plans to open a factory in Mexico.

Port of Brownsville sets record for steel tonnage shipment

When bulk carrier MV Ultra Ocelot recently arrived at the Port of Brownsville in South Texas with a load of steel slab, the shipment set a port record for steel cargo tonnage.

The shipment of 74,000 metric tons of steel slab arrived Dec. 27. It originated from Sepetiba, Brazil, and was destined for Pesqueria, Mexico.

“The Port of Brownsville’s logistical advantage maintains its standing as the main gateway for steel into Mexico,” the January Port Matters newsletter said.

The Port of Brownsville is located 277 miles south of San Antonio at the southernmost tip of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. It is the only deepwater seaport located along the border, making it a major trade channel between the U.S. and Mexico.

The port’s previous record for steel tonnage was set in October, when more than 67,000 metric tons of steel slab was delivered to the port also on its way to Pesqueria.

First Call Logistics launches Texas logistics hub

First Call Logistics announced the opening of a logistics and cold storage facility in Irving, Texas.

The facility, built to house 35,000 square feet of dry storage and an additional 13,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space, provides an expansion of the company’s warehousing and distribution networks.

First Call Logistics is a third-party logistics provider based in Indianapolis. The 3PL is the logistics arm of the Horton Fruit Co. First Call Logistics has an asset-based division called FC Trans, a carrier with 32 trucks and drivers.

With the new location, First Call Logistics said it will provide services to Horton Fruit’s packing and distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as gain a substantial network of operators in Mexico, represented by Grow Farms, supplying everything from mangos to avocados, peppers, cucumbers, squash and beans.

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