Although the number of border crossings is growing, the U.S. and Mexican governments continue to delay implementation of a NAFTA provision that would open the border to international truck traffic. Mexican trucks are only allowed to serve designated commercial zones within the U.S. U.S. trucks are all but banned from Mexico.
Crossings are further complicated by inspections, visa requirements and penalties for non-compliance. Moreover, each crossing site is unique and conventions can even vary from company to company. Thus delays at the border range from 45 minutes to 8 hours.
One solution: Foreign Trade Zones.
FTZs started cropping up in the 1930s as a way to help level the playing field for U.S. companies and their international competitors. They have since become widely recognized as a way to ensure smooth, efficient and speedy movement of goods. FTZs provide a reliable and competitive foundation for working with U.S./Mexican customs regulations, policies and procedures, and they can offer significant savings and market advantages in the global supply chain.
One successful FTZ is the Trade Processing Center run by Ryder System, the Miami-based logistics and truck lease/rental giant. Ryder began offering cross-border services to clients such as General Motors, Xerox and Diesel Recon in 1995. As relationships developed and business opportunities grew, the company created its own FTZ.
Ryder's Trade Processing Center is a 40,000-square foot facility located at KellyUSA (the former Kelly Air Force Base) in San Antonio, Texas. It operates seven days a week with door-to-door services for over-the-road, rail, air an ocean transportation for full truckload, small parcel and less-than-truckload movements.
Services include audit and consolidated billing for clients and partners. Ryder coordinates Mexican cargo insurance and can arrange security escorts for high-value goods.
In addition to transportation and logistics expertise, the center offers a secured warehousing service including receiving, storage and forwarding, inventory management, packaging, material handling, shipping, and just about any other support services a client might need. It also provides Mexican broker and freight forwarder services with coordinated logistics services tailored to a client’s own requirements.
It’s essentially a one-stop global logistics, distribution and transportation management operation as well as the liaison between Ryder U.S. and Ryder de Mexico, providing transportation and management for Ryder's dedicated contract carriage service, contract and common carriers, Mexican carrier management, security support and cargo services.
Although Ryder's cross-border team currently crosses trailers at nine sites (Otay Mesa, Calexico, Nogales, El Paso, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville), the center provides a single point of contact for five of the border crossing locations - Laredo, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, McAllen and Brownsville.
Ryder is also an active participant in various commercial and government border pilot programs aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. A recent program, the North American Trade Automation Prototype, is an eight-month pilot program coordinated with the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S., Mexican and Canadian Customs. Its objective is to reduce customs paperwork at the borders and has already led to the development of the Customs' International Trade Data Systems, which will be fielded in January 2001.
Ryder maintains that any business involved in cross-border trade activities needs the expertise and experience of a full-service FTZ to reduce delays, costs, paperwork and inefficiencies. The company says its Trade Processing Center, along with its dedicated management team at the border-crossing sites, serves as its clients' eyes and ears at the border, providing significant financial advantages for more competitive and lucrative business operations.