Donald Trump and his wife Melania in February 2016 (Marc Nozell/Wikimedia Commons)

Why Mexicans may welcome the Great Wall of Trump after all

20 July 2016 | By David Rogers 6 Comments

On Monday, the Republican Convention in Cleveland officially adopted Donald Trump’s controversial proposals to build a wall along the US–Mexico border.

The hardline approach to immigration was agreed on by a voice vote on the floor of the national convention, and includes a border wall that “must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic”. (See “Republican Platform 2016”.)

So the plan has moved a step closer to realisation. However, if the US were to build a wall along the entire length of its border with Mexico, the biggest winners are likely to be the Mexican cement industry, according to a recent report by investment analyst Sanford Bernstein & Co.

The New York-based research firm compiled a report analysing which companies would be likely to benefit from such a large-scale construction project.

They decided that if the Republican candidate were to be elected in November and to keep that promise, he would provide a major source of revenue for Mexican cement makers.

“It is not economically feasible to transport heavy building materials over large distances,” the report reads. Because of that, “it is the companies with production facilities closest to the border that stand to gain the most as suppliers to the Trump Wall project.”

“As ludicrous as the Trump Wall project sounds (to us at least), it represents a huge opportunity for those companies involved in its construction”– Sanford Bernstein & Co.

Bloomberg notes that the largest cement maker in the North and Central Americas is Cemex, a company based in Monterey, Mexico, that has dozens of facilities within 200 miles of the border in both countries.

“As ludicrous as the Trump Wall project sounds (to us at least), it represents a huge opportunity for those companies involved in its construction,” said Bernstein analyst Phil Roseberg, the author of the report.

“Despite arguments concerning which government will pay for construction, the large quantities of materials required may necessitate procurement from both sides of the border.”

Other cement companies in the region include Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua and US companies Martin Marietta Materials, Vulcan Materials and CalPortland, which is part of the Japanese firm, Taiheiyo Cement.

In their analysis, Roseberg and his team assumed the wall would extend 1,000 miles, be 10 inches thick and 40ft tall, extending another 7ft below ground and require around 7 million cubic metres of concrete.

The report estimates that the final cost of the wall would be $15bn.

However, Trump has suggested that the height of the wall may be anywhere between 35ft and 90ft, which makes pricing difficult. In September last year, he estimated that the wall would cost about $4bn, which he revised upwards to $12bn in February.

An analysis by The Washington Post in that month estimated that a 35ft-high wall would require twice as much concrete as the Hoover dam and the cost of the concrete alone would be around $700m.

The newspaper also approached a retired construction estimator who priced the entire job at $25bn, not counting the video surveillance system.

Image: Donald Trump and his wife Melania in February 2016 (Marc Nozell/Wikimedia Commons)