The Department of Transportation pilot test designed to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies to run their long-haul rigs anywhere in the U.S. has encountered opposition, both in Congress and in Mexico.
Meanwhile, plans to implement the test are progressing at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as announced by the Department of Transportation in February.
Scott Gerber, spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., confirmed to WND the senator’s amendment approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee March 22 to block the test remains in the Emergency Spending Bill on the floor of the Senate.
The amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would prohibit the use of funds to allow Mexican trucks beyond the 20-to-25-mile commercial zone on the U.S.-Mexican border until U.S. trucks are given comparable access to Mexico.
“It is simply unfair to American truckers to restrict their access to Mexico while Mexican drivers are given unrestricted access to U.S. highways on a faster timetable,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This amendment will prevent this from happening.”
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow to announce the introduction of a NAFTA Trucking Safety Act. The bill is designed to clarify and strengthen current regulations imposed on Mexican motor carriers entering the U.S. beyond commercial zones along the international border.
“This legislation will ensure Mexican truckers are held to the same standards as their American counterparts,” Joe Kasper, spokesman for Hunter, told WND. “If Mexican motor carriers cannot meet the same safety and security requirements as American truckers, then they should not be allowed to access our nation’s roadways and communities.”
In Mexico, a trade association representing Mexican motor carriers has asked the Mexican Senate to cancel the pilot test.
Tirso Martinez Angheben, president of CANCAR, the Camara Nacional Del Autotransporte de Carga, told the Communication and Transportation Committee of the Mexican Senate this week the NAFTA competitive environment was unfair to the Mexican trucking industry.
According to Angheben, U.S.-based trucking companies have invested in infrastructure within Mexico, allowing U.S. truckers to establish a “commercial presence in our country,” while prohibitions on Mexican truckers investing in the U.S. create “a commercial disadvantage of great importance.”
In a statement running on the group’s website, Angheben objected that DOT regulations for Mexican trucks operating in the U.S. “include uneven regulation for Mexican carriers that will not guarantee a fair competitive market in U.S. territory.”
In 2001, CANCAR asked the Mexican Senate to cancel the trucking provisions of NAFTA.
“The majority of people in the United States don’t want Mexican trucks to go there, and we told our president that we don’t want to go, either,” CANCAR president Manuel Gomez told the Mexican Senate in 2001. “Nor are we interested in having U.S. trucks come to Mexico.”
CANCAR expressed concern the pilot program would “generate strong pressure on salaries paid to Mexican drivers, which in turn will increase the cost of domestic freight in Mexico.”
CANCAR is also worried that the Mexican government “lacks the capacity and infrastructure to supervise U.S. carriers entering Mexico and to prevent foreign companies from providing domestic transportation only reserved for Mexican nationals.”
Ian Grossman, spokesman for the FMCSA, told WND his group plans to move forward with the DOT pilot test as announced.
“The cross-border trucking demonstration program will bring real benefits and real dollars to the American economy, while maintaining all U.S. safety and security standards,” Grossman said. “The department is committed to moving forward with this program and will continue to work with members of Congress to address their concerns.”
The FMCSA has a webpage that details “Cross Border/ NAFTA” rules and regulations.
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