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Cross-Border Trucking Could Be in Jeopardy

As the U.S.’s trade negotiations are under the microscope, a cross-border trucking provision that allows Mexican trucks to carry freight across the U.S.-Mexican border is vulnerable to repeal.

In January 2015, the Department of Transportation announced that Mexican motor carriers could apply for authority to conduct long-haul, cross-border trucking services in the United States, increasing economic and export opportunities between the two countries, and marking a significant milestone in implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It took more than 20 years after NAFTA went into effect in 1994 for the US to finally allow trucks to move across the border due after a successful pilot program.

Since talk began about reopening NAFTA, unions and opponents of the provision see the opportunity to rollback conditions, which previously only allowed Mexican trucks to drop off freight 25-miles from the border and a driver from the U.S. would pick it up and carry it across the border to its final destination.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the House Transportation Committee's top democrat, said he plans to bring the issue up to Trump administration officials to return to the system that makes Mexico responsible for crime management on their side of the border, claiming it was an efficient process.

While the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agree with that sentiment and filed a lawsuit against DOT.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under President Obama defended the safety of the pilot program, inspecting Mexican trucks more than 5,000 times, but the Teamsters claimed the pilot program was too small with too few participants to extrapolate to the whole industry.

The American Trucking Associations has supported the cross-border requirements for increasing shipping efficiency.

The handoff between Mexican and American trucks adds time and money to the shipping process.

ATA spokesman Sean McNally said, “Trade and trucking are synonymous, and the increased movement of freight yields more good paying jobs and growth in American companies. We want to help the Administration and Congress build a trade framework that helps grow our economy, including the trucking industry."

As NAFTA stands now, Mexico has a clear right to expect its truckers to be able to deliver goods to the U.S., said Brandon Belford, a former DOT official who worked on the Obama-era pilot program.

FMCSA still accepts applications from Mexican carriers despite the pending court case.


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