The United States Department of Transportation has announced that Mexican truckers are now eligible to carry out lengthy journeys through the U.S. The decision is expected to garner criticism from American truckers who have fought the measure since the completion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) more than two decades ago.
Since 1994, U.S. truckers and trucking companies have fought to keep their Mexican counterparts from doing business in the United States. They were not alone, with safety groups arguing that Mexican trucks — which they insisted do not have to meet the same safety and pollution regulations enforced in the United States — pose a threat to U.S. citizens. However, most of the opposition has focused on the risk posed to the U.S. economy by allowing Mexican truckers to compete with U.S. citizens in the transportation industry.
The move to allow Mexican truckers to carry out long hauls across the U.S. is based on a joint effort by the United States and Mexican governments to improve cross-border commerce. Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met to discuss ending a stalemate that has involved the United States blocking access to Mexican trucks and the Mexican government responding with $2 billion in trade tariffs.
For his part, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sees the new arrangement as a big step forward for U.S.-Mexico economic relations. “Opening the door to a safe cross-border trucking system with Mexico is a major step forward in strengthening our relationship with the nation’s third-largest trading partner, and in meeting our obligations under NAFTA,” Foxx said.
As for concerns about safety, Foxx said there’s little evidence to support that position.
“Analysis on almost 1,000 … Mexican long-haul trucking companies that transport goods into the United States, proved that Mexican carriers demonstrate a level of safety at least as high as their American and Canadian counterparts,” Foxx said.
Foxx added that Mexican trucking companies looking to send trucks to the U.S. will undergo a rigorous safety inspection and that Mexican drivers must meet English language proficiency requirements.