Permitting Armed U.S. Customs Agents in Mexico will Allow for Cargo Preclearance Program and Speed U.S./Mexico Trade

After decades of not allowing foreign law enforcement officials to carry weapons in Mexico, an agreement by the Mexican Government to allow certain U.S. agents to do so is expected to be implemented in August. One significant benefit of this arrangement should be a faster, more efficient flow of trade from Mexico to the U.S. The ability to carry firearms south of the border will allow U.S. Customs agents to conduct “Preclearance” operations in Mexico whereby cargo can be deemed fit for entry to the U.S. before it reaches the border.

Preclearance is considered an important trade facilitation tool and a similar operation is already in place for southbound cargo coming from Canada to certain U.S. northern border ports. Laredo, Texas, the largest commercial U.S. land border crossing will likely be the first southwest border port to experiment. Mexican Customs agents operating at the Laredo airport are currently allowed to carry firearms to assist southbound security operations. Although the details of an official cargo preclearance agreement will still need to be agreed upon between the two countries, removing the firearms carrying restriction is a significant step and a win for trade facilitation.

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