Mexico trucking group seeks to delay opening border with U.S.

user-gravatar Headshot

Mexican trucking association Canacar called Tuesday, March 27, for the country’s Senate to delay next month’s pilot program to allow local drivers to deliver goods deep into the United States, due to concerns that U.S. cargo haulers will have an advantage when they get their turn to enter Mexican territory, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

Canacar President Tirso Martinez blamed the Mexican government for not investing enough in infrastructure and border inspections, while calling the pilot program “discriminatory” for requiring Mexican truckers to pass higher standards than their U.S. counterparts, according to Dow Jones. “This really isn’t a competition between transport companies, it’s between the governments,” Martinez told the news agency, adding that he is seeking an agreement with the Mexican government to invest more in border infrastructure.

“We are confident that there are Mexican companies as capable and efficient, or more, than many in the U.S.,” Martinez told Dow Jones. But while the U.S. has spent more than $500 million since 1995 to improve border inspection stations for the eventual opening of both countries to trucking under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Martinez told the news agency “the Mexican government isn’t prepared to do the inspections.”

Canacar is the latest to voice opposition to the pilot program unveiled by the two countries last month, with the Teamsters union and U.S. lawmakers also lining up against the plan. The one-year pilot would give 100 Mexican companies access to the U.S. interior on April 23, with U.S. trucks able to travel throughout Mexico six months later.

Public Citizen has sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on behalf of a highway safety organization to compel the agency to release information about the program. The non-profit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in October for information about activities surrounding any program to evaluate Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the border zone. No details about the methodology for evaluating the project or its criteria have been revealed, Public Citizen said.

Last week, a U.S. Senate panel approved legislation to require the government to allow for a period of public comment on the project. The amendment also would demand all congressional mandates be met and simultaneous access for American trucks be granted before proceeding with the pilot program. The appropriations committee approved the amendment by voice vote to the supplemental appropriations bill providing emergency spending on March 22.

The amendment would make the program “subject to an open transparent process that will include public comment, quantifiable means of success and require that safety be enhanced,” according to a committee summary of the bill. Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Dianne Feinstein of California and Patty Murray of Washington sponsored the amendment.

Mexico’s own Senate has the ability to intervene in trade controversies, according to Dow Jones, and thus could delay the launch of the program. Martinez was optimistic, telling the news agency that most of the senators on the Communications and Transport committee that he met with last week “recognized that the conditions for the pilot program aren’t there.”