DOT Press Release: U.S. Cross-Border Trucking Effort Emphasizes Safety and Efficiency
Thursday, January 6, 2011
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today shared with Congress and the government of Mexico an initial concept document for a long haul cross-border Mexican trucking program that prioritizes safety, while satisfying the United States’ international obligations.
After the demonstration program was terminated in March 2009, Secretary LaHood and other Administration officials met with lawmakers, safety advocates, industry representatives and other stakeholders to address a broad range of concerns. The initial concept document, which is a starting point in the renewed negotiations with Mexico, addresses concerns raised during that process.
The Obama Administration will continue to work with Congress and other stakeholders to put safety first. And, as specifics of the program are developed, the Administration will continue to ensure that the program delivers job growth and economic opportunities here at home. A formal proposal, which the public will have the opportunity to comment on, is expected to be announced in the coming months.
Click here to view the concept document in English.
OOIDA Press Release: U.S. truckers react to DOT’s Mexican trucking proposal
(Grain Valley, Mo., January 6, 2011) –The largest trade association representing truckers reacted to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announced intention to lay the groundwork for a program to open American roads to trucking companies from Mexico.
“With so much focus in Washington on creating jobs, it’s a bit shocking that the administration would pursue a program that can only rob U.S. drivers of their jobs,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice-President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
“While we appreciate that the administration is proposing to allow Congress and the public to weigh in on a future trucking program with Mexico, they seem to be missing the main issue at hand,” continued Spencer. “The onus is upon Mexico to raise their regulatory standards, not on the U.S. to lower ours to accommodate their trucking industry.”
OOIDA contends that to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens, Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers must be required to comply with the same level of safety, security and environmental standards that apply to their U.S.-based counterparts, not only while they are operating in the U.S., but also in their home country. To date, Mexico has failed to institute regulations and enforcement programs that are even slightly similar to those in the United States.
“Mexico has been bullying our government into allowing their trucking companies to have full access to highways across the U.S. while refusing to raise regulatory standards in its own trucking industry,” Spencer continued. “Mexico’s regulatory standards aren’t even remotely equivalent to what we have in the U.S.”
“Every year, U.S. truckers are burdened with new safety, security and environmental regulations. Those regulations come with considerable compliance costs,” said Spencer. “Mexico-domiciled trucking companies do not contend with a similar regime nor must they contend with the corresponding costs.”
OOIDA notes that the primary objective of NAFTA is to ensure the North American nations enjoy the prosperity that would result from the free flow of goods across borders. In order to achieve this end, the agreement seeks to ensure that each country affords the others access to economic opportunity. OOIDA contends that under current conditions in Mexico there is little opportunity or willingness on the part of U.S. truckers to compete there.
“Until the Mexican government is able to significantly diminish the rampant crime and violence within its borders, commits to addressing its deteriorated infrastructure, and promulgates regulations that significantly improve its trucking industry, U.S. truckers will be unable to benefit from the anticipated reciprocity,” said Spencer. “If a new cross-border trucking program were implemented in the near future, U.S. truckers would be forced to forfeit their own economic opportunities while companies and drivers from Mexico, free from equivalent regulatory burdens, take over their traffic lanes.”
Teamsters Press Release: Hoffa 'Deeply Disappointed' in Mexican Trucks Proposal
Plan Threatens Jobs, Highway Safety and Border Security
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today questioned why the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a new cross-border trucking program at a time of persistent high U.S. unemployment, budget deficits and unrelenting drug violence in Mexico. He said the proposed program would threaten the traveling public in the U.S. and open our southern border to increased drug trafficking.
The Obama administration closed the border to unsafe Mexican trucks in February 2009 after Congress shut off funds for the cross-border pilot program. Mexico retaliated with tariffs that the Teamsters Union believes are excessive. The administration should have brought a challenge against Mexico for imposing excessive tariffs on U.S. goods, as the Teamsters Union has urged for nearly two years, instead of a "concept" document that would still open the border to unsafe trucks.
"I am deeply disappointed by this proposal," Hoffa said. "Why would the DOT propose to threaten U.S. truck drivers' and warehouse workers' jobs when unemployment is so high? And why would we do it when drug cartel violence along the border is just getting worse?"
Ciudad Juarez, which is right across the border from El Paso, is now the most dangerous city in the world. The administration's own Homeland Security Department issued a warning just last month that noted Texas safety officials urged people to stay away from Mexico. "The warning comes as kidnappings, violence between drug cartels, as well as between law enforcement and the cartels, increases," Homeland Security said.
Hoffa noted that the trade agreement benefits Mexico but not the U.S. "Given the drug violence, there's no way a U.S. company would want to haul valuable goods into the Mexican interior," Hoffa said. "Trade agreements are supposed to benefit both parties, but this is a one-way street.
"We continue to have serious reservations about DOT's ability to guarantee the safety of Mexican trucks. Mexican trucks simply don't meet the same standards as U.S. trucks – they don't even have to have anti-lock brakes. Medical and physical standards for Mexican trucking firms are lower than for U.S. companies. And how can Mexico enforce highway safety laws when it can't even control drug cartels?"
"The Bush-era pilot program was a failure that shouldn't be repeated," Hoffa said.
The U.S. government spent $500 million on the pilot program, which began in September 2007. Only about three Mexican trucks per day traveled beyond the border zone since then, according to the Transportation Department's office of inspector general. The inspector general also reported that "FMCSA does not have assurance that it has checked every Mexican truck and driver … when they cross into the border in the United States."
"I do appreciate that DOT is proposing to raise the bar on safety for Mexican trucks," Hoffa said. "But the stricter standards aren't enough, and they could cost the U.S. taxpayer. For example, the administration proposes that Mexican trucks be checked for U.S. EPA emissions standards and that drug testing take place in U.S. labs.
"Why should American taxpayers pay for Mexican trucking companies to take away American jobs?"
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hard-working men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Go to www.teamster.org for more information.
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters