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Mexican cement firm offers to help Donald Trump “build that wall”

Cementos Chihuahua seemingly puts business before national pride in bid to build border fence

Mexican cement firm Cementos Chihuahua says it is prepared to help US President-elect Donald Trump fulfill one of his key election pledges: to build a wall along the 3,000 kilometers of border that runs from Tijuana-Imperial Beach on the Pacific to Matamoros-Brownsville on the Gulf Coast.

Around a third of the border is already shielded by fencing.
Around a third of the border is already shielded by fencing. AP

“We cannot afford to be choosy. We have to respect our customers on both sides of the border,” said Cementos Chihuahua’s CEO, Enrique Escalante in an interview.

Trump made Mexico, and Mexican immigration, among the main targets of his campaign, with supporters chanting “build that wall” at his rallies. In reality, around a third of the border is already shielded by metal barriers, built under the Clinton administration in 1993.

Trump made Mexico, and Mexican immigration, among the main targets of his campaign

The incoming proposed sealing off the frontier completely with a concrete wall that would be paid for through a tax on remittances sent home by Mexicans working in the United States. “We’re going to build that wall and Mexico, although it doesn’t know it yet, is going to pay for it,” said Trump hours after his controversial meeting with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto in late August. Speaking last week, Trump seemed to have scaled down his ambitions, suggesting that in places, “it could be a fence.”

As far as Cementos Chihuahua is concerned, the bigger the wall, and more concrete it has, the better. The company, which depends on the United States for 70% of its business, is a specialist in reinforced cement. The desert border in its home state currently lacks any physical obstacles; its high temperatures have traditionally put all but the most desperate off trying to cross into the United States, with some 8,000 would-be migrants estimated to have died in the last 20 years.

“For the business we’re in, Trump is the candidate that favors industry,” added Escalante, referring to the incoming president’s infrastructure plans.

The Mexican economy is expected to be hit hard by a Trump presidency. The president-elect says he will renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement, as well as send millions of undocumented Mexican migrants home.

Building a wall would require about 7 million cubic meters of concrete

Cementos Chihuahua, a listed company, but one of Mexico’s smaller players, is 23% owned by Cemex, the country’s biggest cement company and among the world’s largest.

In July, Bloomberg said based on the assumption that the structure would extend 1,000 miles, rise 40 feet and reach seven feet underground and have a thickness of 10 inches, building a wall would require about 7 million cubic meters of concrete, which could cost more than $700 million. Analysts say the total cost of the wall would be between $15 billion and $25 billion to construct, much pricier than Trump’s own calculation of $10 billion.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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