U.S., Mexico sign cross-border agreement

Jill Dunn | July 06, 2011

U.S. and Mexican officials have signed an agreement to end the cross-border trucking dispute under which Mexican carriers could be granted provisional operating authority in as early as a month.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes Dionisio Arturo Pèrez-Jàcome Friscione signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Mexico City on July 6.

The FMCSA’s cross-border pilot program mandates Mexican carriers meet all U.S. Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The FMCSA will provide and pay for electronic monitoring systems to track hours-of-service compliance at a maximum cost of $2.5 million.

For Mexican program participants, the agency will review the complete driving record of each driver and require all drug testing samples to be analyzed in U.S. labs. It will assess drivers of their comprehension of English and U.S. traffic signs.

Mexico will provide reciprocal authority for U.S. carriers to engage in cross-border long-haul operations in that country. Neither nation can engage in domestic carriage of goods point-to-point in the other country.

The memorandum does not apply to hazmat carriers or carriers engaged in the cross-border transportation of passengers.

Mexico agreed to a phased-in lifting of retaliatory tariffs imposed on many U.S. goods following Congress’ vote to end a previous program in March 2009.

Following the agreement announcement, Rep. Peter DeFazio submitted legislation to limit the administration’s authority to “unilaterally decide how and when to open the U.S.-Mexico border without input from Congress.” The Oregon Democrat’s bill would also limit use of the Highway Trust Fund to pay for EOBRs for Mexican truckers.

The American Trucking Associations, business and farming organizations have supported the cross-border program. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Teamsters and some safety groups have opposed it.

OOIDA said it has filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It has asked the court to determine if the DOT has legally implemented the program.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston said the program will hurt U.S. trucking jobs and place an undue burden on taxpayers, and he blasted the DOT’s pledge of transparency to the public over the program. “If the agreement is good for the U.S. why the hell is he (Secretary LaHood) sneaking down there to sign it?” Johnston said in a news release. “So much for their supposed transparency.”

The three-phase pilot program requires Mexican carriers to have provisional authority for an 18-month minimum. Carriers that participate safely in the previous cross-border program will receive credit for time in the first program and will not to be subject to Stage 1 inspections.

Soon, the FMCSA will publish a 79-page notice in the Federal Register of intent to begin the pilot program. The FR notice will also be a response to the 2,254 comments or docket submissions to its FR notice last April, which announced plans to initiate the program. Many comments were concerns about the violence in Mexico and that the pilot program will take away U.S. jobs.

The FR notice and agreement may be read here.

  • John

    This is the beginning of the end for US trucking. Blame Clinton for starting NAFTA with Mexico. All I can say is what a huge mistake.

  • Gordon A

    This absolutely unacceptable. Why are we paying in taxes to support our competition? How dare these jerks in WASHINGTON DC do this to us.
    I had to pay for my own tracking devices and probably will have to pay again for updates to be legal and to keep working. The FMCSA did not offer to pay for mine nor yours and it is our tax dollars that we paid in.
    Are they subject to the CSA 2010 program as we are. The US has no way to check the driver or carrier safety record so I would guess not.

    Actually it was not Clinton that started this . He was the first President that was in office when it became a head line. Ross Perot was against this NAFTA when he ran for president and it had been in the works for several years prior to that.

    Research the collapse of Russia. What is being done here is parallel to what caused Russia to become the Former USSR. Just as if they were following a play book.
    Wake up America. Time is short. 2012 will decide the fate of the US.

  • Gordon A

    Actually in my opinion it is not any one presidents fault. It is ours. The American trucker. We have become complacent. We have allowed ourselves over the years to become lazy and acquired the “it doesn’t matter, it’s not mine” attitude. We have allowed our industry to become close to being bottom feeders in our actions and attitude and presence . We have as an industry become dumpster diver drivers and many large carriers have helped us along the way by lowering their standards.
    We have lost the all important work ethic as an industry and it is now bitting us in the butt. Now we are paying for it and it really sucks to be us.