Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Canada again beats Mexico to remain the top U.S. trade partner; Merqueo raises $50 million to expand across Latin America; Aries Worldwide Logistics opens Laredo office; and CBP in Texas intercept a rare pest in a produce shipment. 

Canada again beats Mexico, remains top US trade partner

Canada was the top trading partner of the United States in June, followed by Mexico and China, according to data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

It was the second-consecutive month that Canada, Mexico and China were Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively. 

The U.S. trade deficit increased 6.6% to a record $75.7 billion in June, as imports increased more than exports.

While China was third overall in total trade during June, China led with the most imports to the U.S. at $39.9 billion. The U.S. exported $12.1 billion in goods to China during the month.

Jorge Canavati, principal at J. Canavati & Co., said China is still a huge part of the U.S. economy and supply chain.

J. Canavati & Co. is a San Antonio-based company that provides international logistics and trade consulting. Canavati is also chairman of the San Antonio chamber of the Global Chamber of Commerce.

“China-U.S trade is at an all-time high, even with tariffs and costs and all, transportation rates are skyrocketing left and right because there is more demand than supply,” Canavati said.  

The top three U.S. imports from China in June were computers, cellphones and children’s toys. The top three U.S. exports to China were computer chips, corn and passenger vehicles. 

Canavati said the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has helped facilitate more manufacturing moving to North America. Canavati also said while some companies are leaving China, many are still choosing to remain in Asia.

“Many U.S. firms are leaving China for many reasons: human rights violations, the clamping down in Hong Kong, etc. But to be clear, most are moving to India, Vietnam and other countries in Asia,” Canavati said. “Not many are feeding the myth of ‘reshoring’ and ‘nearshoring’ to the U.S. However, between the supply crunch and COVID still lurking, ocean rates are at never-before-seen rates. This is an important part of the inflation we are experiencing today.”          

Canada’s trade with the U.S. totaled $58.8 billion, with exports at $26.7 billion and imports at $32.1 billion. 

Canadian exports to the U.S. were led by crude oil, passenger cars and light trucks. Imports from the U.S. were led by passenger vehicles, low-value shipments (goods worth less than $3,300) and commercial vehicles. 

Mexico’s trade with the U.S. totaled $57.2 billion in June, led by higher exports to the U.S. totaling $33 billion, supported by passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and computers.

Mexico’s imports from the U.S. totaled $24.1 billion in June, led by gasoline, liquified natural gas and other petroleum products, and motor vehicle parts.

Merqueo raises $50 million to expand across Latin America

Merqueo, a full-stack delivery scale-up, announced a $50 million Series C round led by IDC Ventures, Digital Bridge and IDB Invest.

The Mexico City-based company said it is the first and largest grocery delivery player in Latin America, according to a release.

“Merqueo is focused on building a highly scalable platform that can deliver great service at the best price. Once we proved our model, we looked for investors to continue our expansion across the region,” Miguel McAllister, CEO and co-founder of Merqueo, said in a statement.

The company plans to use the capital injection to expand its network of dark stores across Latin America. Dark stores refer to retail outlets or distribution centers that cater exclusively to online shopping. Merqueo will also use the funds to hire and scale its team across Mexico. 

McAllister co-founded Merqueo in 2017, along with entrepreneur José Calderón.

Merqueo’s catalog encompasses up to 10,000 products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, imported products, liquors, household items and personal care goods. The company currently operates in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.

Aries Worldwide Logistics opens Laredo office

Aries Worldwide Logistics announced it is opening a facility in Laredo, Texas, which will focus on providing streamlined customs compliance and cross-border logistics services.

The Laredo facility will be led by Mario Casares as regional director for Mexico. Casares has more than 25 years of experience in the cross-border market, according to a release.

“I am very excited about this new challenge and very soon we will be integrating transportation solutions in all its modalities, as well as contract logistics and warehousing services on both sides of the border,” Casares said.

Houston-based Aries Worldwide Logistics offers warehousing, packing and brokerage solutions, along with trucking, rail, ocean and airfreight services.

The company also has offices in Brownsville, El Paso and Grapevine, Texas.

CBP in Texas intercept rare pest in produce shipment 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge recently discovered a rare pest, a first in the nation, in a shipment of fresh vegetables.  

The case occurred July 7 in Pharr, Texas. CBP agriculture specialists at the Pharr cargo facility were inspecting a commercial shipment of fresh jackfruit arriving from Mexico.

Officers discovered a live pest inside one of the boxes later identified as Cyclocephala forcipulata, a species that belongs to the scarab beetle family found in Mexico. Scarabs can cause agricultural and economic damage as their larvae eat plant roots and adult beetles feed on other parts of plants. The shipment was returned to Mexico.

Cyclocephala forcipulata (Photo: CBP)

“Our agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture and contribute to the nation’s economic security by denying entry to invasive species not known to exist in the U.S.,” Carlos Rodriguez, director for the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas port of entry, said in a release.

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