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ATA urges U.S. negotiators to keep Mexican cross-border truck program in NAFTA

American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Robert Costello says the United States needs to maintain the Mexican cross-border truck program because it generates trucking jobs and helps ease congestion.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Robert Costello sent a letter on Friday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, pushing for the United States to maintain the Mexican cross-border truck program under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Costello argued that trucking represents 82 percent of the value of surface trade with Mexico, and that truck transported trade with Mexico alone supports 26,000 U.S. trucking jobs, including over 17,000 U.S. truck-driving jobs.
In addition, this trade generates at least $3.7 billion in revenues for U.S. trucking companies, he said. This does not even account for secondary benefits for other U.S. trucking-related industries, such as truck and trailer manufacturers, and truck stops.
Costello also said that NAFTA’s truck provisions help reduce border congestion. “Congestion increases without NAFTA’s trucking provisions because trailers often return empty after delivering freight across the border,” he explained. “Sometimes ‘bobtails’ (tractors without trailers) deliver a trailer only one-way across the border and return solo; and, bobtails and empties are also required to be inspected at the port of entry just like loaded trailers. The additional unnecessary equipment increases congestion, delays, ‘overhandling’ of shipments, costs, and the potential for lost and damaged freight.”
Costello also pointed out that Mexican carriers operating beyond the commercial border zones have an excellent safety record, noting how they operate equipment similar to U.S. motor carriers and must adhere to all U.S. laws and regulations.
“Unfortunately, there are groups fearmongering about Mexican trucks driving beyond the commercial border zone,” Costello said. “The Mexican trucking program is not an open door policy that permits any and all Mexican trucking companies to haul freight beyond the border zones. Mexican carriers undergo a case-by-case review process before the U.S. Department of Transportation grants them authority to operate.”
However, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., have repeatedly expressed opposition to the Mexican truck program.
“We must update NAFTA to ensure Mexican truckers are held to the same standards American truckers are,” Rep. DeFazio said Tuesday on twitter.
Rep. DeFazio said in a recent speech that Mexico does not have any drug or alcohol testing of its commercial drivers; does not have a centralized database of commercial driver’s licenses or driving offenses, making it difficult if not impossible to track and disqualify drivers who are unsafe and would be disqualified in the U.S.; and in Mexico, drivers are "pretty much exploited and abused," as there are no hours-of-service rules.
The third round of negotiations for the nearly 24-year-old trade agreement took place Sept. 23-27 in Ottawa, Canada, while the fourth round is scheduled to be held from Oct. 11-15 in Washington, D.C.
Commenting on the NAFTA renegotiations, Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo urged the parties to stop fixating on trade deficits, according to a report from Reuters Wednesday.
“We cannot continue under these optics that our only measurable objective can be the reduction of commercial deficits,” he said. “Discussing the theme of the deficit would generate a war of protectionism that would dismantle the advance of the agreement. “In the undesirable but possible scenario that the United States leaves the agreement, the possibility that the deficit with Mexico grows is very high.”

Source of article click here : American Shipper

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