One hundred years ago, trade between New Orleans as the “True Gateway of the Americas” and Mexico was so strong that a simple change in import-export conditions put under stress the whole trading system. It only required news of a trade deal between The United States and Mexico for the city’s merchants to give a sigh of relief.
In an article titled “New Orleans trade with Mexico no longer threatened” the author explains how a new rule stating the existence of export tariffs in railroad ports (like New Orleans) and not excluding Gulf Ports would have automatically put all the commerce through overland railroads and threatened the thriving commerce in place between the city and Mexican ports. Fortunately, the officials in charge of imposing these trading tariffs immediately corrected this discriminatory law by issuing a supplement that stated that this tariffs applied to Gulf Ports also. With this corrective measure, they are making sure every exporting company and their suppliers in Louisiana have equal conditions and and a better competitive status so better opportunity to succeed.
Trade between Mexico and the port of New Orleans has a long history. After the U.S.-Mexican War in the mid 19th century, Mexico’s trade with the United States grew rapidly, so that over the rest of the century the United States accounted for an increasing share of Mexico’s foreign commerce. The rapid growth of the U.S. economy after 1840 made the United States an even larger supplier of finished goods to Mexico. But it was not until the 1880s that the integration of the two economies really grew. The construction of railroad links between the two countries helped this increased trade relationship.
Besides the end of the war between the United States and Mexico, better U.S. economical conditions and new transporting infrastructures; the changes in trade conditions are the main reason for fluctuations in import/export results. As an example of the effects of trade conditions, we can note how the lifting of a ban over commodities such as cotton, sugar, rice, wheat, flour, pine lumber, beans and dried fruits between Louisiana and New Orleans almost tripled New Orleans’s exports from January 1918th and 1919th.
As commerce and trade has become more complex, the need for more control over equal conditions and awareness of consequences has open the door for organizations to work on this. According to the High Level Panel (HLP) created by the United Nations in 2015, trade is essential for the transfer of knowledge and technology and as a result for development. It has been understood that a “fair and development-friendly trading system” is a necessary condition for creating a world that can be more prosperous, more peaceful and more just than that of today”. Also if the world economy ensures that the global trading system is open and fair, this will allow all countries to grow further.
By analyzing trade between New Orleans and Mexico in the 21st century, we can observe that over the last 12 years, trade has increased each year and mostly exports from New Orleans, making it an enormous source of work and economical well-being for the port, and by extension American families. Please see this report from the Port of New Orleans for more information:
In these charts we can observe not only the effect of tariffs, trade rules and bans but also the consequences of natural disasters in commerce and trade. In 2005, as a result of Hurricane Katrina the whole image of export/import relationship turned around. Before Katrina, New Orleans’s exports to Mexico were much higher than imports. This stayed that way while New Orleans’ economy and ports were resuscitating. In 2009, 5 years later trade became again as it was before, been mostly exports to Mexico rather than imports from Mexico.
In conclusion, we can note that trade is an important player in a country’s economy. It is so important that a minimal change in regulations, a natural disaster or a political decision, can change from one moment to the other, causing an economy to go from a healthy, prosperous one to a weak and poor economy where the most affected is the community. Trade laws and have proven to help diminish disasters and also have proven to destroy an economy. It can work both ways. So governments and private organizations are responsible for maintaining equal and fair trading conditions according to the present or the near future situations. Economical growth by trade or “Trade, not aid” and “trade as aid” as it has been called by the United Nations, is a dream to accomplish in order to live in a better, more equal and less violent world; but there is still a long road to travel to conquer this challenge.
1.“Supporting a fair and equal trading system”
William Hynes, Development Co-operation Directorate
2.”What Exactly Is Fair Trade, And Why Should We Care”
Amy Shoenthal, ForbesWomen
3.Mexico and the United States: Ambivalent Vistas
4. Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau