Complex World of Border Trade: Cattle Go North, Meat South

5/22/2017 New York Times

meat-packagingREYNOSA, Mexico — Waving arms and brandishing a long electric prod, the ranch hands and truck drivers herd about 400 leggy calves onto trucks as the sun crests on the outskirts of this border city. After spending their first eight months on the ranches of Gildardo Lopez Hinojosa, the calves are about to cross the border — bound for Texas and U.S. feed lots beyond.

On one of the three bridges connecting Reynosa with Texas, they might cross paths with the beef and chicken shipments that Lopez imports from the U.S. for his local chains of butcher shops and fried chicken restaurants. He gets the best price for his calves in the U.S. and it’s cheaper for him to import U.S. chicken than ship Mexican chicken from the country’s interior.

Lopez has been selling calves and buying beef across the border for about as long as the North American Free Trade Agreement has been in effect. President Donald Trump has said the agreement that is the basis for much of the $500 billion annual trade between the U.S. and Mexico needs to be renegotiated or scrapped entirely. To hear him tell it, NAFTA was “a catastrophic trade deal for the United States.”

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