U.S.-Mexico Unified Cargo Processing Pilot Is Yielding Significant Reductions in Commercial Port Crossing and Cargo Inspections

By Melissa Miller Proctor

Wait times and the number of cargo inspections performed at the border between the United States and Mexico for transportation security reasons are expected to drop significantly as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexico’s Servicio de Administration Tributaria (SAT) continue to expand the Unified Cargo Processing pilot at Arizona’s Port of Nogales. Under the pilot program, which was launched last July, CBP and SAT conduct joint cargo clearance examinations on U.S. outbound shipments to Mexico, which has so far significantly reduced wait times for trucks carrying cargo, eliminated the need for redundant inspections on both sides of the border, lowered costs for companies engaging in cross-border trade and their customers. CBP reports that since the program’s launch last summer, wait times for commercial trucks coming into the United States has dropped by nearly 85%. Instead of the typical 4-hour waiting times associated with border inspection, trucks are now crossing the border in roughly 20 minutes. In addition, it is reported that businesses in Nogales saved more than $700,000 in logistics costs during the first 30 days of the program. 

Additional pilots are currently being conducted for exports of automotive, electronic and aerospace products by air to Mexico from Laredo, and exports of agricultural products from Baja California to the United States. Another pilot program is expected to begin in 2017 focusing on exports of electronic goods from Chihuahua to the United States. Thereafter, the Unified Cargo Processing pilot will be expanded further to focus on commercial trucks entering Mexico.