DOT proposal seeks
to resolve trucking
dispute with Mexico
Jan 7, 2011 9:21 AM
The US Department of Transportation has unveiled an initial proposal for a long-haul cross-border Mexican trucking program that complies with US obligations under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while prioritizing the safety of products transported across the border.
This proposal contains general conditions that Mexican long-haul truckers would have to meet, including a safety audit, US emissions standards, and driver background checks.
Mexico has protested the lack of access as a NAFTA violation. In March 2009, after the US Congress failed to renew a pilot program that let a limited number of Mexican trucking companies haul freight beyond a 25-mile US commercial zone, Mexico placed higher tariffs on 89 US products. In August, Mexico added new products to the list after the United States failed to present a plan for resolving the trucking issue.
US truckers generally are against providing Mexican carriers access to the United States, saying Mexican trucks don’t have to meet the strict safety and environmental standards their US counterparts do.
Independent truckers said drug-related violence in Mexico will likely keep them from transporting goods south across the border, making an increase in access to the United States by Mexican carriers a one-sided proposition.
“US truckers would be forced to forfeit their own economic opportunities while companies and drivers from Mexico, free from equivalent regulatory burdens, take over their traffic lanes,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
“With so much focus in Washington on creating jobs, it’s a bit shocking that the administration would pursue a program that can only rob US drivers of their jobs,” he said.
United Fresh Senior Vice-President Robert Guenther welcomed the news as a positive sign of progress for the produce supply chain.
“This has gone on much too long and needs to be rectified as soon as possible,” he said. “We will be working with our members to analyze the impact of this proposal and in particular discuss with Mexican officials if this proposal meets the US obligations under NAFTA. In turn, we will ask the Mexican government to suspend their current trade retaliation efforts that have severely impacted trade of fresh fruits and vegetables with Mexico.”
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