This past October 15th the chief executive of Mexico’s national tax authority (the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público), Luis Videgaray, along with Jeh Johnson, the US director of the Department of Homeland Security, signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a six month US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program.
The main goal of the initiative is to facilitate and expedite the large commercial trade flows that are transacted between the two NAFTA partners and neighboring countries. More specifically, the intent of the authors of the US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program is to eliminate most of the double inspection of goods as they transit the Customs facilities of both countries. Three sites will be a part of the six month trial period. They include:
The Laredo International Airport
Both US and Mexican Customs agents will operate in shared space in the cargo area at the airport to inspect goods being shipped to eight airports in Mexico from the United States that will be incorporated into products for the automotive, electronics and aerospace industries.
Mexican Customs at Otay Mesa, Tijuana, California
This installation of the US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program will be set up for the purpose of inspecting agricultural cargo of Mexican origin bound for the United States.
San Jeronimo, Chihuahua
A portion of the US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program pilot project consists of setting up an area for US and Mexican Customs officers to work side by side in a manufacturing plant involved in the assembly of computers. The factory is located at San Jeronimo, Chihuahua, which is ten miles to the west of Ciudad Juarez. Just north of San Jeronimo is the US Customs Port of Entry at Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Operation of the US-Mexico joint customs office at the Laredo International Airport location began on October 15th, immediately after the memorandum was signed by the representatives of the two countries.
It is the hope and expectation of both governments that the US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program will produce a number of positive results. Among those anticipated are a:
- reduction of the time that it takes goods to cross the border in both directions;
- decongestion of commercial traffic on the US-Mexico border;
- reduction of border crossing costs;
- minimization of contraband and fraud;
- optimization of returns on infrastructure and equipment.
Participation in the US-Mexico Joint Customs Office Program is on a voluntary basis. Office that are staffed with both US and Mexican Customs agents are set up only in the national territory of the exporting country. Companies that wish to participate in the program can inquire about doing so by contacting the Tax Administration Service of the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público in Mexico, or Customs and Border Protection in the United States.