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Nuevo Leon Strengthens Cross Border Vaccination Efforts
Due to the relevant economic activity between the US and Mexico, neighbor cities from both countries have developed strategies to overcome the strain placed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuevo Leon, for example, reached a vaccination agreement for workers on the US-Mexico border.
Samuel García, Governor-elect of Nuevo Leon, had announced a cross border vaccination campaign for local workers alongside the Texan cities of Laredo, Brownsville, Austin, Houston and El Paso. This campaign considers the full vaccination scheme for 25,000 workers from Nuevo Leon between the ages of 25-39, with free transportation included that will be covered by the employers of the workers registered in the program. While the first announcement said that no visa would be required, today García said that for logistic reasons visas will be solicited to the registered workers.
Vaccinating workers and people in the border have been a highly encouraged initiative between the US and Mexico, the busiest and one of the largest borders in the world. Each year, the US allows in more than 300 million people through that border, approximately 90 million cars, and 4.3 million truck crossings.
Since the implementation of NAFTA (now USMCA), the number of commercial vehicles crossing the border has increased by 41 percent. Bilateral trade has almost tripled and cross-border trade averages more than US$650 million a day, two-thirds of which comes through ports of entry in Texas. Much of this bilateral trade between the US and Mexico occurs in the context of supply chains as manufacturers in each country work together to create goods. The flow of intermediate inputs produced in the US and exported to Mexico and the return flow of finished products greatly increased the importance of the US-Mexico border region as a production site. US manufacturing industries, including automotive, electronics, appliances and machinery, all rely on the assistance of Mexican manufacturers. In 2019, Mexico surpassed China as the US’s top trading partner, with US$614.5 billion in total trade (imports plus exports).
Prior to García’s initiative and as a result of the intense manufacturing relationship between the countries, dozens of buses were organized to take about 85,000 maquiladora workers from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, to Texas to be vaccinated north of the border. In Sonora, 22,000 vaccines were also applied as part of a border program, reported the National Council of the Maquiladora Industry and Export Manufacturing Industry.
The economies of border cities heavily rely on the daily retail and lifestyle activities of foreigners. In the US, San Diego shared that the San Diego-Tijuana region typically averages US$895 million in annual revenue in an average year. The past year saw revenue fall to US$250 million, a 72 percent drop, according to Jason Wells, Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. The sharp drop was caused in part by the slowdown in cross border traffic.
In El Paso, Texas, which shares a border with Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, retail and trade activities by Mexicans reaches US$1,400 million a year, reports El País. In the region that includes Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville and El Paso, between 8 percent and 14 percent of the local economy depends on the consumption of Mexican tourists.
Mexicans who live on the border with the US have a very different offer of products from the rest of the country and for generations they have crossed the border on foot or by car to buy goods of all kinds because they are of better quality, greater variety or better price in the US, reports El País.
Efforts to reactivate this part of the economic activity began on January of this year, when the US donated over a million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mexico, which were used to vaccinate adults over 18 in the border states of California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard said that those efforts were to open the border with the US “as soon as possible” for the benefit of both countries.
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