Despite adding new travel restrictions to both the northern and southern borders of the United States, US officials said economic activity with Canada and Mexico would be allowed to continue.
“We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, health care workers continue to be able to traverse that border. But tourism, some recreational activities and other things need to stop during this [coronavirus] crisis,” Chad Wolf, acting secretary for Homeland Security, said during a Friday press conference. Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard added: “The border is not closed.”
That is welcome news to logistics professionals and trade analysts, who said closing the borders to trade would have been damaging to the economies of the US, Mexico and Canada.
“I do not foresee any closing of the border to trade because that would only exacerbate the economic hardship,” Kenneth Smith Ramos told FreightWaves. Smith is a former chief negotiator for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for the Mexican government. He is currently a partner at Mexico City-based Agon, Economía, Derecho, Estrategia.
“Trade has not been affected per se, but the coronavirus will have a strong impact in every economy, without a doubt,” Smith said. “Things are very uncertain in Mexico and there is a general feeling of unease because the Mexican government has not taken the same types of measures that the US and Europe are now undertaking to contain COVID-19 (closing restaurants, bars, gyms, prohibiting large gatherings, etc.) and if they are, it is late in the game.”