Mexican trucks to haul freight on U.S. roads

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  1. hvactec
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    Remember NAFTA?

    The ambitious but controversial North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico from the 1990s is back, this time as the backdrop to a contentious new cross-border deal allowing Mexican freight trucks onto U.S. highways.

    The agreement, announced last month by the Department of Transportation, is being assailed by critics as a possibly illegal undertaking that will take jobs from U.S. truckers and money from U.S. taxpayers. It is opposed by the USA’s largest transportation union, the Teamsters, by a national association of independent truckers and by some federal lawmakers from both parties.

    “We think it’s unsafe, unfair and wrong for America,” says Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “It’s a danger to highway safety. … It will cost thousands of trucking and warehouse jobs.”

    He says the agreement is “probably illegal” because it goes beyond the scope of an earlier cross-border trucking pilot program that Congress killed in 2009.

    Critics such as Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., argue that Mexico’s trucking industry is far less regulated and monitored than the USA’s and that the deal opens the way for Mexican narco-traffickers to gain a foothold on U.S. roads. They’re not convinced by assurances that Mexican trucks and drivers will be carefully inspected and monitored by U.S. authorities.

    “It takes $50 and a fake gold watch to get out of a speeding ticket in Tijuana,” says Hunter. “This is a place where, if you think slapping a sticker on a windshield is going to stop the narco-traffickers down there from using that truck, I would say the (federal transportation) guys are extremely naïve.”

    Supporters hail the agreement as an end to tariffs that have cost U.S. companies more than $2 billion. They say it will create thousands of jobs and spur trade between the two nations. Supporters include top U.S. transportation officials, the nation’s largest trucking industry trade association, businesses that export to Mexico and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    “If we’re going to boost U.S. exports and create jobs here at home, we must hold on to our major export markets, such as Mexico, where American companies are already doing well,” says Chamber President Thomas Donohue.

    Patrick Kilbride, the Chamber’s senior director for the Americas, could not provide specifics on how jobs will be created. But he says that in many cases, as U.S. companies cut back on trade with Mexico because of the tariffs, Canadian companies filled the void. “Twenty-two states count Mexico as their No. 1 or No. 2 export market,” he says.

    Several trucking officials say there won’t be any immediate impact from the agreement. “Even if you implemented NAFTA trucking tomorrow, nothing’s going to change (immediately),” says Martin Rojas, vice president for security and operations at the American Trucking Associations, which represents more than 37,000 members, including other trucking groups, industry-related associations and 50 affiliated state trucking associations.

    READ MORE Mexican trucks to haul freight on U.S. roads - Arizona News from USA Today
     

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