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For the first time in years, gasoline costs more in Tijuana than in San Diego. El Mexicano reported on its front page that gasoline in Tijuana now costs 12.02 pesos per liter, or $0.925, the equivalent of $3.50 per gallon. Meanwhile, the price of a gallon of gasoline at Costco on Market Street in San Diego is $3.42 and at the Imperial Avenue Arco is $3.45, according to SanDiegoGasPrices.com.
For years, gasoline has been much cheaper in Tijuana, sometimes to the extent that filling up the tank in Tijuana could save a U.S consumer well over $10.
This disparity in prices made Mexicans' term for an incremental price increase, a gasolinazo, a highly exaggerated one, for while Mexican gasoline prices might go up a few U.S. cents once a month, fuel prices at the same time might have gone up by double digits in the United States. Shifting exchange rates also often made Mexican gas even cheaper.
The difference is that U.S. prices also can go down, while Mexican prices in recent years have only gone up, at least in peso terms, albeit incrementally.
Mexico's selling gasoline at below-market prices has cost the government more than $10 billion annually over the years.
Front-page story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
August 2011: Mexican gas price at $2.91 a gallon; San Diego price $3.71
March 2012: Mexican price at $3 a gallon; San Diego's price over $4.
February 2012: Annual gasoline subsidy put at $12 billion.
May 2012: Colef economist says 2012 likely end of cheap gasoline for Mexico.
Update, Dec. 19: To make border gasoline prices more competitive, Mexican prices for regular were dropped in Mexicali to 12.07 pesos per liter, and in San Luis Río Colorado to 10.69 pesos per liter. In Tijuana, however, regular remained at its December price of 12.13 pesos per liter.
1 liter=3.78541 gallons. At the Dec. 19 exchange rate, that puts Tijuana's gas at $3.54 gallon (45.92 pesos per gallon). SanDiegoGasPrices.com has gas as low as $3.37 a gallon at several stations and at $3.45 at the Market Street Costco.