Obama administration promises to create new cross-border trucking program by Jill Dunn and Todd Dills
U.S. leaders sought to improve relations with Mexico in March by suggesting they would reinvent the cross-border trucking program after ending that controversial project. When it was ended March 11, it spawned $2.4 billion in trade retaliation south of the border in the form of tariffs on goods.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration terminated the cross-border project after President Obama signed the $411 billion appropriations bill, containing language ending the program. The project, which drew low participation from truckers on both sides of the border, had been the subject of congressional hearings and lawsuits.
Raymond LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, met in late March with industry stakeholders, safety advocates and congressional members toward creating a new project.
Obama has tasked the DOT, the U.S. Trade Representative, the state department, congressional leaders and Mexican officials with building a program “that will meet the legitimate concerns of Congress and our NAFTA commitments,” according to a DOT statement.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has asked Obama to suspend any immediate plans to replace the cross-border program. Mexico’s regulatory standards should meet the requirements of the rest of North America before its trucks do business beyond the border zone, the association said.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston said the North American Free Trade Agreement does not require the United States to make exemptions for safety and security. “Thus, one country may not treat service providers from another country any less favorably than it would ‘in like circumstances’ treat its own or another country’s service providers,” Johnston said, concerning the treaty.
California Gov. Arnold Schwar