Mexican Trucking Deal to Boost Exports
The United States and Mexico have been at odds for years over concerns about transportation safety, especially when it comes to trucks from Mexico bringing dangerously heavy loads such as steel onto U.S. highways. In response to safety restrictions that kept Mexican trucks out of the United States in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican government place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. Last month, however, the Obama administration announced that it had reached an agreement with Mexican President Calderon that should remove the roadblocks to cross-border trade.
As a result of Mexico’s tariffs for the past two years, American manufacturers have lost market share to other nations, while billions of dollars of U.S. exports to Mexico and thousands of manufacturing jobs have been negatively impacted, says Aric Newhouse, senior vice president for policy and government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, D.C. “Manufacturers are pleased that the United States and Mexico have come to an agreement that will resolve the cross-border trucking dispute. The United States is a global leader in ensuring enforcement of trade laws, and we need to lead by example with our NAFTA obligations on Mexican trucks.”
The agreement by Presidents Obama and Calderon brings the U.S. back into compliance. “We hope this dispute will be resolved and the tariffs lifted. We urge Congress to approve this agreement as quickly as possible to help manufacturers create new jobs and increase exports,” Newhouse adds.
The American Trucking Association, Arlington, Va., also supports the agreement in principle between the two governments to implement the long-delayed cross-border trucking provisions of NAFTA. “ATA is pleased that the two administrations have worked through their differences and have put our countries on the path to resolving this issue after nearly 16 years,” ATA President and CEO Bill P. Graves says. “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.”
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.
“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.”
Mexico is the second largest export market for the United States. ATA is hopeful that the lifting of the retaliatory tariffs, which 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.