New Cross-Border Plan

Jill Dunn | April 01, 2011

A June Congressional report said that in the short-term, cross-border trucking will have a gradual impact on U.S. trucking. Mexican carriers will likely face problems with insurance, state registration fees and insufficient back hauls, but may overcome this through increased U.S. market involvement, leasing services to American firms or creating interline partnerships.

Long-term, few U.S. and Mexican carriers are expected to provide direct trucking services deep into each other’s markets. Many carriers are expected to operate cross-border via a subsidiary or parent corporation or in cooperation with an affiliate carrier business in the other country.

Additional problems to be addressed in implementing a cross-border trucking program include:

WORK VISAS. NAFTA implementation ends the ban on U.S. firms leasing Mexican trucks and drivers, the congressional report stated. “If a U.S. firm also arranges for work visas for leased Mexican drivers, it could make them available for more cabotage loads and could have Mexican drivers competing more often against U.S. drivers in the United States,” the report read.  “Should this happen, Congress may want to revisit the leasing issue.”

ULTRA-LOW-SULFUR DIESEL. The June Good Neighbor Environmental Board’s report to Congress and Obama said the fuel is usually available in Mexico only at the border and in Mexico’s three largest cities. The presidential advisory group said this has prevented Mexico from significantly implementing new heavy-duty diesel emissions standards.

MEXICO’S DETERIORATING SECURITY. Trucking companies have combated thefts by teaming with security specialists. For example, Celadon has installed surveillance cameras in its Mexican terminals and anti-theft tracking devises on trailers and trucks making the company’s 150,000 annual Mexican border crossings, the U.S. agriculture department said. In seeking a congressional hearing, U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., quoted a homeland security report that said “in 2010, criminals hijacked more than 10,000 commercial trucks in Mexico.”

Drivers, ATA at odds over border plan

Trucking industry response to the cross-border proposal divided along the same lines as it did to the 2007 program.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said it would “destroy small trucking companies and the drivers they employ.” Teamsters President Jim Hoffa questioned having the program during a period of high U.S. unemployment and an escalation in drug cartel border violence.

Conversely, Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president, said “NAFTA’s trucking provisions should evolve to allow for a more efficient, safe and secure environment for cross-border operations.”

Numerous Congressional members and many business and agricultural groups welcome the program as relief from the tariffs Mexico imposed as retaliation for ending the last program. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.