Better Late than Never: Lessons Learned from Mexican Truck Drivers in the United States

By Luis de la Calle

Truck2The opening of the United States to freight trucking companies from Mexico will change the border and its competitiveness.

Mexico must always demand the rule of law and compliance with commitments.

On Friday, January 9, 2015, the United States Department of Transportation made an important announcement that has not received the recognition it deserves: the Department of Transportation will begin to process applications of Mexican land freight trucking companies wishing to provide international services in the United States.

This announcement ends the pilot program that was established as a palliative measure in response to the longstanding dispute with Mexico. This topic is worth remembering for the lessons it leaves us with.

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This article was originally published in Spanish on El Universal

Mexican truck is first in delayed NAFTA program

The Associated Press, 10/22/11

A Mexican truck crossed into the U.S. on Friday bound for the nation’s interior, fulfilling a long-delayed provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement that had been stalled for years by concerns it could put highway safety and American jobs at risk.

The crossing came nearly two decades after passage of NAFTA, which was supposed to give trucks from both countries unhindered access to highways on either side of the border.

At a ceremony before the tractor-trailer set off for a Dallas suburb, the owner of the Transportes Olympic trucking company said he considers his fleet’s access to the U.S. interior like being invited to a friend’s house.

Chamber of Commerce sends delegation to Mexico to discuss trucking issue (in Spanish)

El Diario de Yucatán, 1/10/2011

La Cámara de Comercio de EE.UU. enviará hoy una delegación a México para presionar por una solución “de mutuo acuerdo” a la disputa sobre la libre circulación de camiones mexicanos en las autopistas de este país.
La delegación, que permanecerá en México hoy y mañana, estará encabezada por Myron Brilliant, vicepresidente para Asuntos Internacionales de la Cámara de Comercio, dijo la entidad en un comunicado.
El viaje se produce después de que el pasado día 6, el secretario del Transporte de EE.UU., Ray LaHood, presentase al Congreso un nuevo régimen de inspecciones y vigilancia que permita la libre circulación de camiones mexicanos por las autopistas del país, como lo estipula el Tratado de Libre Comercio para América del Norte (TLCAN).
“No hay un momento más clave para la relación entre EE.UU. y México”, dijo Brilliant, quien además elogió que el Gobierno de Washington “esté tomando el primer paso hacia una solución” a la disputa bilateral sobre los camiones mexicanos.

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DOT seeks to resolve trucking dispute with Mexico

The Associated Press, 1/6/2011

The Obama administration is circulating a proposal for re-opening U.S. roads to Mexican trucking companies, a starting point in an attempt to resolve a longstanding trade dispute.

The Transportation Department released the proposal on Thursday after showing it to members of Congress. It lays out conditions that Mexican long-haul truck carriers would have to meet, including a safety audit, emissions standards and driver background checks.

The U.S. trucking companies and drivers oppose giving Mexican carriers access to the U.S. trucking market. They say Mexican trucks don’t have to meet as stringent safety standards as their U.S. counterparts, which would give them an economic advantage.

Mexico has protested the lack of access as a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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22,000 trucks at border stopped by flooding

MSNBC, 7/14/2010

Thousands of U.S. and Mexican trucks hauling goods across the border were backed up Wednesday after severe flooding blocked a key trade route in northern Mexico, truckers and authorities said.

Some 22,000 trucks were unable to deliver goods between the Mexican border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey and the Texas city of Laredo as days of rain from Hurricane Alex and a second tropical storm swamped the highway from Monterrey, Mexico’s national cargo truckers’ chamber said.

The road that was shut since Friday was partially reopened Wednesday but water levels were still impeding many trucks from moving and priority was being given to vehicles carrying fresh produce and emergency aid for flooded Mexican towns.

“We have 22,000 trucks that cannot deliver on both sides of the border and are completely stalled,” said Refugio Munoz, the truckers’ chamber president. “We don’t see trucks moving again until Friday,” he told Reuters.

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Mexico, U.S. make little progress on truck dispute

Reuters, 4/12/2010

U.S. and Mexican officials pledged on Monday to set up a working group to resolve a trucking dispute, dampening hopes of a quick end to a spat that caused Mexico to slap duties on about $2.4 billion of U.S. exports more than a year ago.

“The countries will establish a working group to consider next steps of the cross-border trucking program,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his Mexican counterpart, Juan Molinar, said in a joint statement after talks in the Mexican city of Monterrey near the Texas border.

In March, LaHood told U.S. lawmakers that President Barack Obama’s administration was “finalizing a plan” to resolve the trucking dispute.

But the establishment of a working group to mull over next steps for resolving the long-running dispute indicates a solution is still not in sight.

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U.S., Mexico closer to resolving trucking dispute

Reuters, 2/8/2010

In March 2009, U.S. lawmakers canceled funding for a test program begun by the Bush administration that allowed Mexican long-haul trucks to circulate in the United States, citing safety and security concerns.

The truck ban prompted Mexico to slap retaliatory tariffs on a long list of U.S. exports, including fruit and industrial goods, worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

But U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, visiting Mexico this week, said President Barack Obama had pushed Congress to remove the clause cutting funding for the program in recent legislation, a first step toward resolving the dispute.

“We have been able to work with Congress and Obama is very pleased that the language in the 2009 appropriations bill — that essentially cut off the funding for the demonstration safety program — was not included in the 2010 appropriations bill,” Kirk told Reuters in an interview.

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