Laredo, Texas, was the nation's second busiest land border gateway by value of imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines in 2008. Its land ports were the sixth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. land, air, and sea freight gateways.
In 2008, merchandise trade passing through Laredo ($116 billion) accounted for about 14 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. Laredo was a major gateway for both export and imports, with inbound shipments accounting for 53 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports in 2008 and outbound shipments accounting for 47 percent (table 1).
Trucks carried the bulk of freight passing through Laredo in terms of value of shipments, followed by rail. In 2008, trucks moved 77 percent of the value of land trade passing through Laredo, up from 72 percent in 2000. Rail had a 22 percent market share of the value in 2008, down from 28 percent in 2000. From 2000 to 2008, the value of rail freight via Laredo increased 10 percent, while the value of truck freight grew 49 percent (table 2). By weight, trucking also accounted for the largest share of the land imports tonnage through this gateway (see insert table).
Laredo is an international gateway that serves almost every state. About 71 percent of the value of truck freight passing through Laredo originated or terminated outside Texas. By value, more than 73 percent of truck imports and 67 percent of truck exports passing through Laredo were to and from other states. The top three states served by Laredo's land transportation facilities accounted for nearly half of the merchandise trade passing through Laredo-Texas (28 percent), Michigan (14 percent), and California (6 percent). These three states accounted for 49 percent of Laredo's land imports and 46 percent of its land exports in 2008 (table 3).
Thousands of commercial trucks cross into the United States from Mexico at Laredo via the World Trade Bridge, the most important truck crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Columbia Bridge. Laredo's international bridge crossings handled more than 1.5 million incoming truck crossings in 2008, similar to the number of crossings in 2007 (figure 1). About 1.6 million truck containers entered the United States at Laredo from Mexico in 2008. By comparison, about 329,000 rail containers crossed into the United States at Laredo from Mexico in 2008 (table 4).
Given the long-term growth rate of U.S.-NAFTA trade, the volume of freight passing through Laredo and the associated truck traffic on local roads can be expected to rise.