Continued Truck Ban a Roadblock to Trade

This article appeared in the Daily Deal on August 23, 2001.
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The North American Free Trade Agreement was supposed to open theU.S.-Mexican border to trucking. But the Clinton administration,under political pressure from the Teamsters union, refused, citingsafety concerns. In February, a Nafta arbitration panel ruledunanimously that the U.S. was in violation of its commitments, andthe new Bush administration rightly agreed to open the border toMexican trucks by the end of this year. But again under unionpressure, the U.S. House voted this summer to deny funds toimplement the trucking agreement. Opponents of Mexican trucks citesafety concerns. But the U.S. government remains free under Naftato impose the same or even stricter standards on Mexican trucks onU.S. roads as it does on American-owned trucks. Mexican trucks wereallowed full access to U.S. roads up until the 1980s, when the U.S.market was closed in retaliation for Mexico's ban on U.S.-ownedtrucks. Mexican-owned tour buses and trucks making deliveries toCanada are already allowed into the U.S. Safety has simply not beenan issue. The ban on cross-border trucking imposes a real cost onboth countries. Shipment by truck accounts for 86% of the flow ofgoods across the U.S.-Mexican border. It is terribly inefficient torequire offloading and reloading of all those goods at the border,wasting time and manpower that could better be spent elsewhere.Slower delivery times disrupt business planning and drive up costsfor producers and consumers. Border delays only add to localpollution and congestion problems. And as long as the disputeremains unresolved, American trucking companies are denied theability to compete for deliveries within Mexico, reducing theirprofits and lowering demand for U.S. truck drivers.