A coalition of more than 100 trade associations has sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer encouraging him to keep cross-border trucking provisions when negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The letter comes shortly after reports suggested the U.S. may seek restrictions on Mexican trucking.
Organizations representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, and transportation and logistics providers sent the letter to Lighthizer on Tuesday, Nov. 14. With the industries relying on trucking to haul their products in both countries, the coalition claims that “eliminating NAFTA trucking, including any investment protections, would have a long-term negative impact on our businesses.”
According to the letter, an increase in trade between Mexico and the U.S. has led to more pressure on the southern border land ports. Coalition members note that restricting Mexican trucks into the U.S. could cause more congestion issues.
“Permitting Mexican carriers to haul freight beyond the border zones will help alleviate some of the congestion at the border, creating more efficiency through the system,” the letter says. “By having these trucks drive further into border states, it will alleviate truck traffic out of the commercial border zones.”
The coalition points out that Mexican carriers are currently not allowed to haul domestic U.S. freight, shooting down any concerns regarding competition between U.S. carriers. Furthermore, not just any Mexican carrier can haul beyond the border zones. Eligible Mexican carriers must go through a review process before the U.S. Department of Transportation grants them authority.
On Nov. 9, Bloomberg reported that U.S. negotiators have asked to remove Mexico’s trucking industry from a NAFTA chapter regarding cross-border services. Bloomberg’s source was an industry official familiar with the proposal who wished to remain anonymous. Land Line has been unable to independently verify the claim.
OOIDA supports removal of provisions allowing long-haul trucks from Mexico.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative hosted a three-day public meeting in D.C. in late June on “matters relevant to the modernization” of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the ramp up the ongoing negotiations.
Nearly 140 witnesses from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico offered suggestions. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer delivered comments on behalf of the Association’s members.
Spencer made it clear that OOIDA is adamant that the cross-border trucking program with Mexico should be dropped from the program.
“The system we have that has been in place for years – trailers being swapped at the borders – and has been going on with Mexico for years works well,” he says. “For economic reasons, it doesn’t really work for Mexican trucks to cross the border and go too far beyond the commercial zones.”
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