DeFazio calls for renegotiation of NAFTA trucking provisions

| 3/11/2010

Those in opposition to opening the U.S. Mexico border to long-haul trucks from Mexico are taking aim at the concept from a whole new direction.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, is asking his fellow lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to join him in calling on the Obama administration to renegotiate trucking provisions contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

DeFazio, who serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, has been a vocal opponent of opening the border to long-haul trucks from Mexico, repeatedly citing safety concerns and challenging the tariffs Mexico imposed on U.S. goods as being “retaliatory” and “illegal.”

He is now seeking support from colleagues in the House, asking them to join him in urging the Obama administration to pursue an alternate solution to the cross-border dilemma: Renegotiate the treaty.

DeFazio penned a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, which he’s asking members of the House to sign.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is backing that move by calling on its members to reach out to their representatives in the U.S. House and encourage them to sign on to the letter.

“We believe the U.S. should renegotiate Article 1202 of NAFTA, National Treatment of Cross-Border Trade in Services, to eliminate the requirement to open our borders to Mexican trucks,” the letter states. “This would remedy all the truck safety, homeland security, and unemployment issues associated with this long standing trade dispute. A successful renegotiation would also eliminate retaliatory tariffs, which are negatively impacting our export markets.”

The letter also goes on to point out that removing the provision would protect U.S. jobs.

“Removing the cross-border trucking provision from NAFTA will also prevent more job losses at a time when we can least afford them. Should the border be fully opened to Mexican trucks, the low wages of Mexican drivers will drive U.S trucking companies out of business.

“This continues a disturbing trend of American job losses through outsourcing. The difference is that we are allowing foreign workers making foreign wages to enter our nation and unfairly compete for American jobs. Opening our border to Mexican trucks is a lose-lose for U.S. workers and the traveling public,” the letter states.

OOIDA is encouraging truckers to call their representative in the U.S. House and “insist that he or she sign their name to Congressman DeFazio’s letter.” Click here to read the full Call to Action.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor