Presidents Obama & Calderon reach agreement on access for Mexican Trucks

FMCSA Inspector and Transportes Olympic
An FMCSA inspector conducts a Level I compliance inspection on a truck belonging to Transportes Olympic in 2007 prior to the initiation of the successful Mexican Pilot Truck Program

In a joint presser today, President Obama and President Calderon jointly announced agreement on a renewed program allowing Mexican carriers access to the United States as agreed under the 1994 NAFTA agreement.
[pullquote]”The deal to end the dispute “is built on the highest safety standards that will authorize both Mexican and U.S. long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under Nafta,”[/pullquote]
The plan  will allow for half of those tariffs to be lifted immediately. It will establish a reciprocal, phased-in pilot program that allows Mexican trucks to operate inside the U.S. provided they comply with a series of safety, driver-skills and language tests monitored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Unfortunately, Mexico has stated anything less than full access will be unacceptable. A new pilot program could fall under this category.

Reaction from opponents of Mexican trucks and Mexico in general, was swift and as expected, but largely irrelevant.

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa issued this statement containing nothing new and nothing unexpected and everything totally irrelevant as has been the case with Hoffa and the Teamsters for years regarding this issue.
[pullquote]“The Bush-era pilot program was a failure that shouldn’t be repeated,” Hoffa said.[/pullquote]

“We continue to have serious reservations about DOT’s ability to guarantee the safety of Mexican trucks. Mexican trucks simply don’t meet the same standards as U.S. trucks. Medical and physical standards for Mexican trucking firms are lower than for U.S. companies. And how can Mexico enforce highway safety laws when it can’t even control drug cartels?

Perhaps it’s time for Hoffa to go find his daddy and spend some quality time with him.

OOIDA on the other hand is “outraged” with cross-border trucking plan.

Executive Vice President Todd Spencer continued to fear monger and spread misinformation with this statement:

“Simply unbelievable!!! For all the president’s talk of helping small businesses survive, his administration is sure doing their best to destroy small trucking companies and the drivers they employ.

Small-business truckers are in the midst of dealing with an avalanche of regulatory rulemakings from the administration. They are also struggling to survive in a very difficult economy. This announcement is tantamount to rubbing salt in wounds already inflicted.

Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and drivers simply do not contend with a similar regulatory regime in their home country nor must they contend with the corresponding regulatory compliance costs that encumber their U.S. counterparts.”

Yes Spencer, it is simply unbelievable that you continue to pursue your agenda of misinformation and debunked lies which have cost US agribusiness and it’s employees more than 40,000 jobs and lost marketshare approaching 20%.

Others see it differently

Daniel Griswald in a commentary from the CATO INSTITUTE put it in perspective and effectively derailed the comments of Spencer and Hoffa.

The safety issue was never a valid reason to suspend the program. As we’ve noted at the Center for Trade Policy Studies (time and time again), the NAFTA agreement requires Mexican trucks to meet every safety standard and then some that are imposed on U.S. trucks. Under the pilot program, Mexican trucks actually proved to have a better safety record than U.S. trucks.

This was the “failed” program that Spencer spoke of with feigned authority.

From a DPS border inspection station in Laredo Texas, Texas Department of Public Safety License and Weight inspector Sgt. Torres said Mexican rigs are held to the same standards as their American counterparts. He shoould know. He inspects them.

[pullquote]The most common inspection consists of checking documents and weighing the trucks. Failing that inspection leads to much more scrutiny — above and below the truck.[/pullquote]

Sgt. Torres said he would feel just as comfortable driving one of the Mexican trucks as an American one. “Yes, once they’re been through a port of entry and been inspected,” he said. “Because we’re not changing standards for them, I would feel comfortable.”

So the fight is on again. The choice is between doing the right thing and as a nation, keeping our word and promise we made 18 years ago to allow equal access or listen to those with political agenda and see the tariffs reinstated at double the rate they were before. Do we listen to common sense and support this or listen to the fear mongers and hide with our heads up our asses once again?

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