The U.S. and Mexican governments on Thursday, March 3, announced an agreement in principle to implement the long-delayed cross-border trucking provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The American Trucking Associations says the agreement upholds previous requirements for Mexican trucks operating on U.S. highways, notably that Mexican fleets apply for and receive authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; demonstrate they meet the same safety standards as U.S. fleets; and that those trucks are prohibited from hauling freight between destinations within the United States.
“ATA is pleased that Presidents Obama and Calderon and their administrations have worked through their differences and have put our two countries on the path to resolving this issue after nearly 16 years,” says Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations. “We hope this agreement will be a first step to increasing trade between our two countries, more than 70 percent of which crosses the border by truck.”
Mexico is the second-largest export market for the United States, and ATA is hopeful that the lifting of the retaliatory tariffs that were imposed after a previous cross-border trucking pilot program was abolished by Congress in 2009 will help the two countries resume more normal trading patterns and increase the flow of commerce between the two countries.
“When properly implemented, NAFTA’s trucking provisions should evolve to allow for a more efficient, safe and secure environment for cross-border operations between the U.S. and Mexico,” Graves says. “Ensuring a level playing field requires that both countries establish permitting and regulatory processes that are clear and transparent to ensure that carriers from both countries are treated equitably.”
However, Teamsters union president Jim Hoffa says the agreement “caves in to business interests” and that “Mexican trucks simply don’t meet the same standards as U.S. trucks.” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says the agreement is “simply unbelievable” and will chip away at his group’s members’ freight opportunities in a struggling economy.
“For all the president’s talk of helping small businesses survive, his administration is sure doing their best to destroy small trucking companies and the drivers they employ,” Spencer says.