Round 3 of NAFTA 2.0 Talks – Cross Border Trucking in Cross Hairs

Latest round of NAFTA 2.0 brings out Mexican Trucking and the same old debunked fear mongering from the usual quarters

The controversial issue of Mexican long-haul truckers servicing markets in the United States was not on the official agenda for last week’s NAFTA talks in Ottawa, but it could emerge as a key test of the Trump administration’s ability to strike a deal with America’s southern neighbor.

“Unsafe Mexican trucks should not be allowed to cross the border,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this month. “As part of NAFTA’s much-needed overhaul, consumer safety, especially highway safety, is critical.”

Doggett, a member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, is one of several lawmakers corrupted by the Teamsters and OOIDA who wrote to Lighthizer before last week’s NAFTA negotiating round, all delivering the same message: Roll back the long-haul trucking commitment the U.S. made a quarter-century ago in the original agreement.

“I urge you to exempt long-haul trucking from the scope of the cross-border services chapter in the NAFTA upgrade and instead allow Congress to develop standards that will ensure the safety of foreign carriers on American highways,” Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), also a member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, said in a separate letter to Lighthizer.

Mike Dolan, legislative director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said he did not expect the issue to be raised during the current round of talks. But with all three sides striving to reach a deal by early December, the U.S. could raise it during one of the four rounds scheduled over the next few months.

Opponents of Mexican trucks are using the usual fearmongering, false narrative propaganda and Trump styles lies to push their agenda, an agenda that has repeatedly been rejected by numerous federal courts.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sept. 28, said the original NAFTA trucking provision harms American truckers and jeopardizes highway safety.

In a new agreement, Spencer said that OOIDA and the Teamsters union want longhaul trucking to be classified as an exempt service, effectively limiting Mexican carriers to operating within border zones.

American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello responded with a letter in which he urged Lighthizer to support the Mexican truck program and decried what he said was “fearmongering” about Mexican trucks driving beyond the commercial border zones.

“The Mexican trucking program is not an open door policy that permits any and all Mexican trucking companies to haul freight beyond the border zones,” Costello said. “Mexican carriers undergo a case-by-case review process before the U.S. Department of Transportation grants them authority to operate.”

The largest Mexican-domiciled carrier in the program, representing more than half of the drivers permitted to drive beyond the border zone, is owned by an American trucking company, he pointed out.

NAFTA’s trucking provisions reduce congestion at the border, Costello argued, by reducing the number of trucks making one-way trips.

“This provision will be more important as trade increases,” Costello wrote. “It would be shortsighted to end the program now.”

In Toronto last week, a coalition consisting of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and President Laporte joined with John McCann, National Director of the Teamsters Canada Freight Division, David Froelich, Director of the Teamsters Canada Dairy Division, and Johanne Couture, from the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association in demanding that the Mexican truck issue be addressed.

The coalition urged Canadian officials to work with the United States to fix the mistake of including long-haul trucking in the original NAFTA. US and Canadian negotiators were briefed on suggested language that would provide a level-playing field, ensure a safe trucking fleet on highways and improve working conditions and wages for Mexican drivers.

“Teamsters in Canada and the United States are united in demanding that the issue of Mexican trucking be addressed in these negotiations.

But the question to be asked is what about Canadian trucking? Mexican trucks have a much better safety record than the Canadians.

Guess we’ll have to follow the money trail and see if the lies and false narratives are effective. It’s doubtful they will be.

This post is part of the thread: NAFTA 2.0 – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.