Under a recently initiated pilot program, agents from the US and Mexico are now performing joint customs inspections in Tijuana.

Since the signing of the NAFTA in 1994, trade between the United States and Mexico has multiplied by a factor of five. This increase in the volume of commerce between the two nations has prompted both public parties and private entities on both sides of the border to devise ways to speed up the pace of cross-border commerce. One such measure that has been implemented to further this goal is to allow for each country to position its customs agents close to the border, and within the national territory of the other in a joint effort to accelerate trade flows. This arrangement  is currently in process, and is taking the form of a second pilot program at the US-Mexico border Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Operations began in mid-January of 2016. USCBP now performs customs inspections in Tijuana.

Faster and more efficient

For the Mexican officials that are involved in the pilot plan that permits USCBP agents to conduct customs inspections in Tijuana, the goal of the exercises is to make both import and exports equally fast and efficient in order to effectively process increasingly large quantities of goods. The purpose of beginning small scale, with a pilot plan limited to the Otay Mesa Port, is to give both U.S. and Mexican Customs authorities to operate on a scale that permits them to iron out systemic problems by correcting errors and streamlining processes. Once this has been achieved, the program will be expanded to more ports of entry between Mexico and the United States.

According to the general administrator of the Mexican Customs Service, Ricardo Trevino, a pilot program such as this one “permitting customs inspections in Tijuana by US agents breaks existing paradigms, and will give both Mexico and the United States the agility to put both countries in the vanguard of international trade.” In order to provide for the protection of US Customs inspectors, the Mexican Congress approved changes in the country’s National Firearms Law in order to allow for US agents to carry protective weapons.

The first pilot was implemented in Laredo

Although now it is possible that the USCBP performs customs inspections in Tijuana, the program had its operational beginnings in the United States, at the Laredo International Airport in 2015. At the Customs facilities that are located there both US and Mexican Customs agents operate in shared space in the cargo area for the purpose of inspecting 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.