Laredo Regains Status as No. 1 US Port for February

Texas Border City Leapfrogs Chicago O'Hare, Port of Los Angeles
World Trade Crossing International Bridge in Laredo
Inbound trucks from Mexico travel over the Rio Grande Valley river at the World Trade Crossing International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

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The Port of Laredo, Texas, just went from the No. 1 inland port in the U.S. to the country’s No. 1 international trade port overall, beating large cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

Recent U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the city gained the No. 1 spot among the nation’s 450 international gateways for trade in February. The distinction comes after three years of the Port of Laredo falling down two places to third, and it was the first time since February 2020 that the city was the top trade port in the U.S.

Data shows the ports of Chicago O’Hare International Airport ranked No. 2 and reported $22.8 billion in trade while the Port of Los Angeles ranked No. 3 with $17.2 billion.

“More than a designation, it means that our relationships with our Mexican counterparts are even more vital to sustaining the continuous prosperity on both sides of the border,” Laredo Mayor Victor Trevino said. “We have steady communication with our neighboring states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León and collaborate as a region.”

Laredo Mayor Victor Trevino


The data suggests Laredo recorded $24.6 billion in two-way trade overall, and Mexico commerce represented a large majority of that trade. A total of $23.9 billion came via trade with the southern neighbor, signaling the huge ties that exist between Laredo and the Mexican economy.

Trevino said he has never lost sight of this major relationship that helps both countries continue to prosper and their respective border states.

“We sustain our relationship with our Mexican trade partners through a foundation of open communication and mutual respect because this foundation will be tested during difficult times like we have seen during the pandemic and other cross-border challenges,” he said.

One of the main reasons why the distinction was provided was because a 12% increase in trade was seen just this past year with Mexico, which contributed to that growth.

The mayor is not the only one excited by the news. Local custom brokers like Ruben Bazan III applauded the information.

“I’m excited to know that we have regained the No. 1 spot, as it is a clear indication that we are the leaders in the industry,” Bazan said. “This recognition sends a message to importers and exporters that Laredo is a solid place to do business, and that in turn will boost our economy and strengthen our workforce.”

The mayor said it shows how all commerce starts at the border. Trevino believes the two main things that will help sustain this level of trade growth will be the future World Trade Bridge expansion and Colombia bridge improvements, which he considered essential to future growth.

“The relationship between the mayors of our sister cities, Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, is uniquely strong,” Trevino said. “This is essential and primarily due to having a pre-existing respect and working collaboratively prior to being elected as mayors of our respective communities. Laredo has to continue to invest in our bridges and be innovative in how we can create a business-friendly environment. This starts with our binational leadership and our ability to work together with Customs and Border Patrol, private enterprise and our community at large.”

Bazan agreed that having open lines of communication, like-minded goals and a genuine desire for mutual success with Nuevo Laredo and Nuevo León is “incredibly necessary” in order to sustain a healthy relationship.

“We will continue to increase trade by being experts in the field and complying with and understanding the law,” Bazan said. “Laredo and Nuevo Laredo’s customs brokers and logistics partners are known to be constantly learning and adapting to what’s new, and that cements us as reliable partners in the world of international trade. We must continue being innovators and trailblazers. I firmly believe that continued growth can only happen with continued learning. Therefore, it’s important to never lag and always be willing to expand our expertise.”

Trevino said that the news helps showcase and show proof to leaders in Washington, D.C., of the city’s importance when it comes to international trade and how they should continue investing money in the area to better the infrastructure that already exists and make new bridges and roads that allow trade to flourish.

“Our strategic dominance in trade always helps Laredo with requests for more infrastructure dollars from our federal and state agencies,” Trevino said. “But we need more to do more. Laredo as the No. 1 inland port of entry, is not just an important commercial lane for Texas, it is an invaluable strategic asset for the entire country. Therefore, the commercial stress on our local infrastructure needs to be alleviated with more state and federal investment.”

Bazan said there is no question that the name of the city is heard in the halls of Washington, and with the recognition, he believes it is safe to say that the city is being seen as a force to be reckoned with.


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“Chicago and Los Angeles are in second and third place, respectfully, and knowing that Laredo took first place should stir up feelings of pride for the citizens of our growing community,” Bazan said. “Our congressman, Henry Cuellar, understands the importance of international trade in Laredo, and he has always been a friend of the industry, successfully advocating for us in D.C.”

Bazan thanks both his colleagues in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo for the distinction and hopes that the land port will only continue to grow and showcase the might of international trade in such a geopolitical and strategic area like Laredo.

Although the news is good for the city and the industries that work in the area, the mayor did state that continued work needs to be done to maintain the status and allow for trade to continue in the area, as there are many opportunities to take advantage of.

“Laredo finds itself in a unique position as the United States continues to benefit from nearshoring growth along the Mexican-U.S. border,” Trevino said. “But this growth and prosperity has to be nurtured and cultivated by exercising mutual respect and investment by our respective governments. Only then can we sustain the growth that we have been seeing and predicting.”

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