US-Mexico trade hit by flooding, trucks stalled
* 22,000 trucks unable to deliver goods on Texas border
* Trucks not expected to get moving until Friday
* Route accounts for 40 percent of US-Mexico border trade
By Abisai Rubio
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico, July 14 (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. and Mexican trucks hauling goods across the border were backed up on Wednesday after severe flooding blocked a key trade route in northern Mexico, truckers and authorities said.
Some 22,000 trucks were unable to deliver goods between the Mexican border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey and the Texas city of Laredo as days of rain from Hurricane Alex and a second tropical storm swamped the highway from Monterrey, Mexico's national cargo truckers' chamber said.
The road that was shut since Friday was partially reopened on Wednesday but water levels were still impeding many trucks from moving and priority was being given to vehicles carrying fresh produce and emergency aid for flooded Mexican towns.
"We have 22,000 trucks that cannot deliver on both sides of the border and are completely stalled," said Refugio Munoz, the truckers' chamber president. "We don't see trucks moving again until Friday," he told Reuters.
It was not clear what the full economic impact of the blockage would be, but Nuevo Laredo Mayor Ramon Garza said it was substantial. The route carries some 40 percent of trade over the U.S.-Mexico border.
"This represents millions and millions of dollars lost," said Garza.
Munoz said Mexican truckers had been using an alternative route since Friday, reaching Nuevo Laredo via Reynosa across from McAllen, Texas, but that the highway suffered damages from flooding and partly collapsed on Monday.
"This could affect factories because they rely on auto parts from the United States on a just-in-time basis and supplies are not getting through," he added.
Octavio Gonzalez, director of a private sector group that promotes regional trade, said many factories were very anxious because of the lack of auto part deliveries. "We are getting calls from desperate companies because of the lack of supplies that have stopped production lines or because exports are stalled," Gonzalez said, without giving more details.
Supermarkets in Nuevo Laredo were largely empty because trucks could not reach the city. "A lot of things are scarce, most of all fresh produce," resident Alma Rosa Vela said.
A tropical depression dumped heavy rains on the Mexico-Texas border on July 8 days after Hurricane Alex flooded the region. Alex battered Monterrey as a Category 2 storm, killing 12 people, ripping apart highways and causing $700 million of damage. (Additional reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Tim Gaynor in Mexico City and Gabriela Lopez in Monterrey; writing by Robin Emmott; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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