After a relatively quiet few months, Congress resumes consideration of the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking pilot program next week when the Senate takes up the Department of Transportation’s appropriations bill.
“The talk on the streets of Washington is about how the Obama administration treats cross-border trucking will be a litmus test on bilateral relations with Mexico,” Kyle Burns, Free Trade Alliance president and chief executive, said this week after returning from a Washington visit with federal transportation officials.
Mexico is prepared to issue trade sanctions against United States if the cross-border trucking pilot program, which allows U.S. and Mexican carriers to make deliveries into the interior of each other’s country, is terminated, Burns said.
Mexico most likely would impose higher tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and would prevent U.S. carriers from making deliveries to the interior of Mexico, Burns added.
The Cross Border Program has been in operation for 17 months now and has returned an astounding record of safety and compliance.
27 Mexican companies with 104 trucks initially participated in the program. The total number of trucks to date is unknown as this represents the number of trucks inspected during the Pre-Authorization Safety Audit. Carriers were allowed to add additional trucks during the Cross Border Demonstration Project.
Some dropped out and had their OP-2 authority reinstated and one was dropped for not maintaining the required insurance.
There have been no accidents and no major safety violations discovered and only 4 citations issued to the drivers in the program. One for speeding, a couple for English language, for which definitive guidelines have not been established.
There has not been the deluge of junk trucks crossing the border as some had predicted.
The Cross Border Program has not caused economic distress on any American company or driver.
The Cross Border Program has not depressed wages in the US trucking industry as many said it would.
The participants did not come to haul our freight willy nilly around the US but instead serviced their customers contracts both ways. They brought finished goods to the US and returned to Mexico with raw materials for the same customers.
There were no instances of Mexican program trucks smuggling contraband, either humans, drugs or other prohibited items as some had claimed they would. To the contrary, all the seizures made at the inland checkpoints have been American truckers trying to make a quick buck.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, has not indicated his position. LaHood did vote last September as a congressman to kill the pilot project, but he now must consider his national constituency.
Truck driver organizations have opposed cross-border trucking and the pilot program, mainly citing safety concerns. (thinly veiled protectionism)
Norita Taylor of OOIDA, smug as usual and thinking the “fix is in”, stated; “We are waiting to see what the language will entail, but we are confident Congress will follow through with what their intent was in the legislation (last year), which was to remove all funding for the program,”
“It is not a safety issue,” Burns said, citing the constant U.S. inspections that occur of Mexican trucks enrolled in the pilot program.
Bottom line is. All safety concerns have been addressed. The mere fact that this program has operated successfully for almost two years is prima facie evidence that Mexican companies can operate in our environment.
And once the horse is out of the barn, it’s difficult to close the door
SOURCES: David Hendricks SA-Express News contributed