Port of Entry: HidalgoEconomic Impact, 2015

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Texas' location, geography and diverse economy offer unique trade opportunities with other states and countries. Texas has a number of ports of entry, including seaports, inland ports and border crossings, which facilitate the movement of imports and exports. Texas ports of entry contribute to the state and local economies, each in a distinctive way.

The state of Texas accounted for nearly $650 billion in international trade in 2015. Of Texas' total international trade, $356 billion or 56.4 percent traveled across the state's border crossings, with Hidalgo's border crossings accounting for 8.4 percent of border trade, or about $30 billion.1

Based on the Comptroller's analysis, the net benefit of trade associated with the Hidalgo port of entry contributes an estimated 53,000 net jobs to Texas and a minimum of $7.6 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the Texas economy.2 (The Comptroller acknowledges there may be other economic activities directly and indirectly associated with the use of this facility that may not be reflected here.)

The Hidalgo "Land Port"

The border crossings at Hidalgo together form one of 11 land ports along Texas' 1,254-mile-long border with Mexico. Each border crossing facilitates the movement of people and goods between the neighboring countries through commercial, vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The Hidalgo port of entry includes three bridges that connect the U.S. to Mexico: the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge and Anzaldúas International Bridge. Toll revenues at the three bridges exceeded $29.6 million in 2015. 3 While the Hidalgo port of entry does not have a rail crossing at present, economic development teams in and around the Hidalgo area are working to create one.4

Crossing Types
Bridges (Owner/Operator) Vehicles (non-commercial) Pedestrian (foot traffic) Commercial (Trucks) Rail
Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge on the Rise (city of Pharr) X X X  
McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge (city of McAllen) X X X  
Anzaldúas International Bridge (cities of Hidalgo, McAllen & Mission) X X X  

Source: Texas Department of Transportation

Built in 2009, the Anzaldúas Bridge is the nation's first land port of entry on its southern border to be LEED-certified for energy efficiency.5 Recently, the city of McAllen partnered with the Mexican government to expand the capabilities of the Anzaldúas Bridge to allow southbound commercial traffic. This project's importance is illustrated by McAllen's investment of $1.1 million towards improvements on the Mexican side of the bridge, as part of a unique, municipal-led binational agreement.6

Economic Data

In total, trade crossing through the port of Hidalgo accounted for $30 billion in 2015, an increase of 98 percent from 2003 ($15.2 billion).7

Hidalgo Border Crossing (Port), All Trade (All Commodities), 2003-2015. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

  • Top origination/destination for goods: Mexico
  • Top Imports through Freeport: electronics; machinery; produce
  • Top Exports through Freeport: electronics; machinery; petrochemical products

Factories in the nearby Mexican city of Reynosa, called maquiladoras, receive raw materials from the U.S. on a duty- and tariff-free basis and return finished goods. Maquiladoras have played a significant role in the growth of the Hidalgo area economy since the implementation of NAFTA in the 1990s.8 A 2011 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that a 10 percent increase in maquiladora output equates to a 6.6 percent increase in McAllen's transportation employment.9

Hidalgo Border Crossing: Trade Value, 2013-2015
  Overall Trade ($ billions) Trade with Mexico ($ billions)
Year Total Trade Exports (only) Imports (only) Total Trade Total Trade % Exports (only) Imports (only)
2015 $30.05 $10.76 $19.29 $29.23 97.30% $10.75 $18.48
2014 $30.58 $11.40 $19.19 $29.64 96.92% $11.39 $18.25
2013 $28.46 $10.84 $17.62 $27.45 96.45% $10.83 $16.62

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

In addition to the bridges are customs and other operations managed by the federal government to accept entries of merchandise, clear passengers, collect duties and enforce U.S. laws.10 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol employs more than 3,000 in the Hidalgo area.11 In addition, numerous privately owned businesses, including warehousing, logistics and retail operations, rely on the area's border trade and visitors from Mexico.

Hidalgo Border Crossing Activity, 2010-2015
Traffic Type 2010 2014 2015 Two-Year Total (2014-15) Change (2014-15) Change (2010-15)
Trucks 459,331 530,093 546,259 1,076,352 3.05% 18.92%
Vehicles 5,604,124 4,591,124 4,620,074 9,211,198 0.63% -17.56%
Pedestrians 2,245,341 2,290,469 2,474,962 4,765,431 8.05% 10.23%

Source: Texas Centers for Border Economic and Enterprise Development and Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Nearly 4.7 million pedestrians used Hidalgo's crossings to enter the U.S. from Mexico in the last two years, or 6,500 per day, and Mexican shoppers account for a meaningful portion of the area's retail trade.12 One recent estimate attributed about $2 billion in Border-area retail sales to Mexican nationals visiting the U.S. to shop. According to Comptroller estimates, this spending has a positive impact on at least 40,000 jobs throughout the state.13

Northbound Border Crossings through Hidalgo in 2015
  Commercial Trucks Personal Vehicles Pedestrians (foot traffic)
Hidalgo Northbound Crossings 546,259 4,620,074 2,474,962
Other Texas Border Crossings 3,394,317 30,527,300 15,501,794
% of Northbound Texas Border Traffic passing through Hidalgo 13.86% 13.14% 13.77%

Source: Texas Centers for Border Economic and Enterprise Development

The 2015 completion of a superhighway that connects western Mexico's produce growers with the Hidalgo port of entry was instrumental in increasing produce imports across the Pharr Bridge.14 To accommodate this increase in imports, the city of Pharr built the 100-acre Pharr Produce District to provide suppliers and distributors with easy access to cold storage facilities.15 In 2016, the Pharr Bridge received 32 percent of the produce the U.S. imports from Mexico, and was the nation's second busiest port of entry for Mexican produce. In all, Texas land ports account for 48 percent of all U.S. produce imports from Mexico, which support about 4,500 jobs.16

Federal Customs District Growth

The Hidalgo border crossings are part of the larger Laredo Customs District, which includes the area stretching from Del Rio and Eagle to Hidalgo, Pharr and Brownsville. With $284 billion in trade, the district was nation's third-largest district by value in 2015, surpassed only by the Los Angeles and New York Customs Districts.17

Laredo Customs District Total Trade, 2002-2015 Source: US Census Bureau

Texas has 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global trade. Each port, whether accessible via air, land or sea, serves a variety of domestic and international economic activity across multiple industries. The high quality of Texas' ports has a significant impact internationally as well as across the state from its largest cities to the most rural counties. Texas ports play an important role in the state's transportation network, as each directly contributes to and thus affects the entire transportation system. Texas ports contribute to the overall strength and diversity of the Texas economy, which ranks 10th in GDP when compared to other nations.18