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Nogales, Arizona – Hotspot for Cross-border Trade by Jacob Wenzel

Photo credit: Cushman & Wakefield | Picor

Nogales, Arizona is a well-known city on the US-Mexican border. Nogales, Arizona has a sister city Nogales, Sonora right across the border on the Mexico side. The sister cities have a unique history as they greatly resemble one another. They have similar cultures, architecture, and even populations as both cities have frequent travelers across the border for work and shopping.


Roughly $30 billion dollars of international products cross the border at Nogales every year in nearly 375,00 trucks, making it one of the most important ports of entry into the U.S. These products include much of the fresh produce consumed in the U.S. and a host of industrial raw materials. A highway that leads to Nogales directly from the deep sea port in Guaymas, Sonora Mexico is one of the reasons for the robust trade. This direct route is highly profitable as this seaport is where a large number of goods come into Mexico from other countries, particularly from Asia, and then are imported into the U.S. through Nogales. Three US Customs ports of entry have been established to handle the amount of international commerce that transits through the city of Nogales.


The first port of entry is the Nogales-Grand Avenue Port which is one of the oldest recognized ports of entry in the United States. The original Nogales-Grand Avenue Port of Entry was established in 1903 and it leads directly to all of the major interstate highways in the U.S. The original port was completely rebuilt in 1966 after Senator Dennis DeConcini of Arizona advocated for better funding. In 2015 the port of entry became primarily used to accommodate pedestrian traffic as people crossed the border daily to work and shop. As a result of the growth in pedestrian and commercial traffic. U.S. Customs required additional points of entry to serve the cross-border traffic.


One of the new additional ports of entry is the Morley Gate which was an addition to the already-established Grand Avenue Port of Entry. The Morley Gate was constructed in order to alleviate the wait times for crossing. The Morley Gate as well as the Grand Avenue Gate became the two primary ports of entry for pedestrians. The other port of entry that was established was the Nogales Mariposa Port of Entry which was opened in 1973. The Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry connects to the major highways that lead to major U.S. markets. The Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry became the sole port of entry for all commercial traffic crossing the border. In 2009Nogales-Mariposa received $250 million dollars in funding for renovations including the extension of roads, more crossing gates, and additional staffing. Additional renovations are ongoing.


The renovations at the Nogales ports of entry are ongoing. These renovations can be attributed to growing interests in cross-border commerce. This is especially true for the state of Arizona. In 2021 under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Arizona received $1.2 trillion to renovate much of the infrastructure throughout Arizona. This included the construction of new bridges and roads, waterways, waste disposal sites, and high-speed internet. It also included funding for renovations at ports of entry in Yuma, Douglas, and Nogales to support the robust and expanding cross-border trade.

About the Author:

Jacob Wenzel graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in both Political Science and International Business.

He participated in a study abroad opportunity in Tokyo, Japan where he studied the international business practices of many Asian countries. This trip established Jacob’s love for travel and no matter where his work takes him he is excited to learn more about where he will end up.  Outside of school, Jacob has worked at several law firms and political campaigns as well as other jobs like a local pizza shop in San Diego. Jacob wants to explore the international business world further before applying to law school later in the future.

Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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