Meeting sought on Mexican trucks as Iraq resolution nears

| Thursday, March 13, 2003

Mexico's Economy Ministry said March 12 it had proposed an "urgent" meeting with U.S. transport authorities to find a way for Mexican truckers to operate in the United States as stipulated in the North American Free Trade Agreement, Dow Jones reported.

The request comes as Mexican President Vicente Fox is under pressure to support a U.S.-backed resolution on Iraq. The trucking delay is seen as a large thorn in U.S.-Mexico relations.

Mexican drivers were due to have access to U.S. roads in 2000, but environmental and labor groups succeeded in blocking their entry. U.S. operators have been able to set up joint ventures in Mexico since 1995.

Mexican Economy Minister Fernando Canales and Transport Minister Pedro Cerisola reminded U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick March 12 that the U.S. is violating NAFTA by not opening its borders to Mexican truckers, the Economy Ministry said in a press release.

The Economy Ministry said the U.S. Department of Transportation has received close to 1,500 applications from Mexican truckers interested in making long hauls north of the border. Still, Mexican trucks remain restricted to a narrow, 20-mile unloading zone on the U.S. side of the border.

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