El Paso, Texas was the nation's fifth busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines in 2008. Its land ports were the 18th leading gateway when compared with all U.S. land, air, and sea freight gateways.
In 2008, merchandise trade passing through El Paso ($48 billion) accounted for 6 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. El Paso was a major gateway for both export and imports, with inbound shipments accounting for 58 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports in 2008 and outbound shipments for 42 percent (table 1).
Trucks carried the bulk of freight passing through El Paso in terms of value of shipments, followed by rail. In 2008, trucks carried $42 billion worth of goods, accounting for 88 percent of the land freight. In 2000, trucks carried more than 90 percent of trade passing through El Paso, but the market share for trucks has declined slightly as rail's share has risen. In 2008, rail carried 11 percent of the value of land freight, up from 4 percent in 2000 (table 2). By weight, trucking also accounted for the largest share of land imports tonnage (see insert table).
El Paso is an international gateway that served almost every state in 2008. About 32 percent of the value of truck freight passing through El Paso originated or terminated outside Texas. Only 11 percent of truck exports passing through El Paso came from states other than Texas. Nearly half (47 percent) of truck imports passing through El Paso, however, went to states other than Texas (table 1). The top three states served by El Paso's land transportation facilities-Texas, Michigan, and California-accounted for 78 percent of the value of the gateway's land freight. Michigan, the state that had the second largest international trade passing through El Paso, accounted for 8 percent of the gateway's land trade in 2008. More than 90 percent of Michigan's international trade through El Paso was imports (table 3).
From 2000 to 2008, the number of rail containers passing through El Paso more than quadrupled, and truck containers rose 9 percent (table 4). However, truck containers made up 82 percent of the container entries. Trucks enter El Paso via the Bridge of the Americas and the Ysleta Port (Zaragoza Bridge). From 2000 to 2008, the number of trucks entering the United States at these crossings increased 5 percent (figure 1).
Given the long-term growth rate of U.S.-NAFTA trade, the volume of freight passing through El Paso and the associated truck traffic on local roads can be expected to rise.