Mexico flags U.S. border delays as harmful to both countries

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that speeding up the flow of goods on the U.S. border is a matter of urgency and that slowdowns are detrimental to both economies, after bottlenecks have held up trade following a row over migration.

Mexico's Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard makes declarations to the media after a meeting of European and Latin American leaders in Montevideo to discuss "good faith" plan for Venezuela, Uruguay February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Delays along the U.S.-Mexico border began late last month after U.S. border agents were moved to handle an influx of migrants, slowing the flow of both goods and people.

The staffing shortages came shortly after President Donald Trump threatened to close the border if Mexico did not halt a surge of people seeking asylum in the United States.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry will present a report to the United States on Thursday detailing the economic costs of the delays, a spokesman said.

“Slowing the flow of goods and the transit of people is a detriment to our economies and for the region’s competitiveness,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There is urgent need to improve the transport of goods, as well as deepen mutual cooperation to ensure the efficiency and safety of our common border.”

The Ministry noted that Mexico overtook China to become the top U.S. trade partner in January and February, amid Trump’s trade wars.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, spoke with northern border states on Monday in preparing to demonstrate to Washington the “cost and uselessness” of holding up border traffic, he said on Twitter.

The collective losses for companies that rely on cross-border supply chains have reached into the millions. Nearly 30 companies in Ciudad Juarez, on the opposite side of the border from El Paso, Texas, reported losses of $15 million in a single week in early April.

Ebrard previously said that U.S. officials pledged to help improve the flow of commercial traffic.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Leslie Adler and Michael Perry