Ole! Mexico trucks permitted back in US
WASHINGTON – President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón unveiled a new deal to resolve the longstanding NAFTA dispute over cross-border trucking.
The agreement effectively ends the ban on Mexican trucks from hauling freight beyond the 20-mile border restriction zone.
The proposed deal is now headed to the Republican Congress for approval.
Mexico says it will lift in two months half the tariffs it put on about 100 U.S. goods when a Democrat-controlled Congress cancelled the Bush Administration's Mexican cross-border truck pilot program in 2008.
It will cancel the remainder of the tariffs when the first Mexican carriers begin crossing the border.
As part of the agreement, Mexican trucks and drivers will have to comply with much tougher safety standards than they currently do, including for drug testing and hours-of-service – and in some cases much more stringent than what American or Canadian truckers currently face.
Not surprisingly, the news sparked furor among labor unions and protectionist groups who were said to be behind the pressure to cancel Bush's pilot program in the first place.
"This deal puts Americans at risk," said Teamsters president Jim Hoffa. "This agreement caves in to business interests at the expense of the traveling public and American workers.
"I am strongly opposed to this agreement," Hoffa continued. "Why agree to a deal that threatens the jobs of U.S. truck drivers and warehouse workers when unemployment is so high? And why would we do it when drug cartel violence along the border is just getting worse?"
According to the Wall Street Journal, talks to resolve the trade standoff heated up in January as Mexico was once again preparing to expand the range of tariffs on U.S. products.
"We were beginning to hear from farmers and businesses being hurt, and some closing, because of these retaliatory tariffs," an official told the Journal.
The American Trucking Associations says it's glad a compromise was reached.
“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,” said ATA president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves . “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.”