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Trump's 'great, great wall' might not be that extensive…and could benefit Mexican companies

Building a wall along the US-Mexican border may feature high in the list of President-elect Donald Trump's most controversial campaign promises - along with his brash statement that Mexico will have to pay for it. While the question of who will foot the bill has not been settled yet, other details about Trump's Mexican wall endeavor have emerged that sound less bombastic as they did during the campaign.

It turns out the wall won't be 2,000 miles long to cover the entirety of the border after all.

Brandon Judd, the head of the Border Patrol Agents' Union and an adviser to President-elect's transition team said in an interview on National Public Radio this week that the wall will only be built in "strategic locations" and that there is already steel fencing along 10-15 percent of the border and that an additional 15 percent of reinforcement will be needed as many areas are covered by rough terrain where a wall would not make sense. He adds this would equal around 200-300 miles in additional construction.


Immigrant advocacy members pray at the U.S.-Mexico border fence on May 1, 2016, in Tijuana.
John Moore | Getty Images
Immigrant advocacy members pray at the U.S.-Mexico border fence on May 1, 2016, in Tijuana.

While President-elect Trump is keen to "bring jobs home" and "set up a special deportation task force" for illegal immigrants, his "beautiful" Mexican wall plans may ironically end up benefiting a Mexican company.

In a report from Alliance Bernstein dated July 2016, the analysts write that "despite arguments concerning which government will pay for construction, the large quantities of materials required may necessitate procurement from both sides of the border. Cemex (one of the world's leading cement producers and a Mexican firm) appears best positioned regardless with cement, RMX, and aggregates facilities throughout the border region."

In fact, Alliance Bernstein says that Cemex stands to benefit regardless if the wall is paid for by Mexico or the US.

However, the analysts make the point that neither country were likely to commission companies from the other country if they were to foot the bill, but the US might still choose Cemex USA- the US subsidiary, where profits will ultimately flow back to Mexico.

The analysts add that "other companies who we expect to benefit most include CalPortland, GCC, Martin Marietta and Vulcan"

Another firm with presence in the border region is LafargeHolcim, the world's biggest cement maker. Asked by CNBC this morning if the company was willing to provide materials for the construction of the wall - we got, well, stonewalled. Eric Olsen merely said:" We are focussed on infrastructure. And the real infrastructure needs in the US are building bridges and roads. We see tremendous needs there."

Carolin Roth is anchor for Street Signs and covers the Swiss market for CNBC. You can follow Carolin on Twitter @CarolinCNBC


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