Mexico May Retaliate if Deal Is Nixed
THE ADMINISTRATION IS STILL PRESSURING Congress not to end a program that lets Mexican trucks without brakes and thin tires shimmy down U.S. streets without limitation. The Mexican government is likely to retaliate with economic sanctions if Congress eliminates the trucking program, which is authorized under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the administration warned.
“Whatever their reason, this is no time to let the politics of pessimism dim the promise of prosperity,” said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters as Senate hearings on the issue began.
This “prosperity” is hard for U.S. truckers, who have lost their jobs to low-paid Mexican drivers, to understand. Before the NAFTA treaty, Mexican truckers were required to transfer their loads to U.S. trucks or trains at the border.
The cross-border program started Sept. 4, 2007 Congress did not renew the cross-border program in its fiscal 2008 budget, but the Transportation Department continues to operate the program. The Teamsters Union has opposed the trucking program in a lawsuit that is pending in federal court in San Francisco. The Teamsters argue that the Department of Transportation acted outside its authority by continuing the program after Congress let it expire. The union and its supporters also argue that Mexico has failed to upgrade its truck-inspection facilities or enforce safety regulations to meet U.S. standards.
“Safety standards in Mexico simply are not on par with those in the United States, and few U.S. trucking companies even appear interested in going south,” said Todd Spencer, vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a Grain Valley, Mo. trade organization.
(Issue # 12, March 24, 2008)