Foreign Exchange

NAFTA delay CTA, CRASH join forces to bar open border In an unusual coalition, the California Trucking Assn. and CRASH (Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways) have joined forces to oppose the opening of the U.S.-Mexican border to Mexican truck traffic under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."As long as the U.S. enforcement agencies are only capable of inspecting less than 1% of Mexican

NAFTA delay CTA, CRASH join forces to bar open border In an unusual coalition, the California Trucking Assn. and CRASH (Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways) have joined forces to oppose the opening of the U.S.-Mexican border to Mexican truck traffic under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"As long as the U.S. enforcement agencies are only capable of inspecting less than 1% of Mexican trucks crossing the border, it is irresponsible and dangerous to consider opening the border to increased truck traffic," CRASH said in a press release.

"Though federal and state truck inspectors believe that trucks from Mexico have made safety improvements since 1995, the only evidence a government study could cite is that truck drivers are now riding on secure seats rather than milk crates.

"Clearly, many more significant safety enhancements must be made before our border states are exposed to increased international truck traffic."

CTA and CRASH also expressed concern that Mexico allows "substantially different" truck weights and "substantially different" hours-of-service regulations. A 1997 audit found that federal and state inspectors in border states placed 44% of 17,332 trucks from Mexico out of service over safety problems.

In a joint resolution to California Governor Joel Gray, the two trade groups - who normally align on polar spectrums of truck safety issues - urged that Mexican trucks entering the United States adhere to the same stringent state and national safety standards that regulate American trucking operations.

They also suggested that "there must be a system in place to hold foreign companies responsible for overworked drivers and poorly maintained vehicles involved in crashes in the U.S."

One for all A boom in crossborder NAFTA shipments has prompted Portland, Ore.-based DAT Services to launch a new freight-matching initiative.

The service is aimed at U.S. and Canadian transport operations with Mexican interests and Mexico-based transport operations with branch offices in the U.S.

"With just a single keystroke," says DAT project leader Bruce Butler, "all our customers now have the ability to post and search loads and trucks, from origin to destination, to 297 Mexican cities and freight hubs, as well as the rest of North America."

According to Butler, the DAT expansion means U.S. and Canadian freight bound for "deep Mexico" can be posted directly to its final destination.

Slimming down Feeling the heat from the government of the Republic of Korea, Seoul-based Hyundai Group - South Korea's biggest conglomerate - will drastically reduce the number of subsidiaries it operates over the next several years and reform itself into five units.

The government has been on Hyundai's case to drop peripheral operations so that it will become more efficient and thus regain the confidence of overseas investors.

According to Hyundai, by 2003 it will trim down from 79 to just 26 subsidiaries through sales and mergers.

The conglomerate says it will eventually reorganize itself into these core business groups: vehicle manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction/engineering, electronics, and finance.

Austrian Cherokees European production by DaimlerChrysler AG of its new Jeep Grand Cherokee has begun at the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Fahrzeugtechnik (SFT) plant in Graz, Austria. SFT will build some 179 Grand Cherokees each day to hit an annual production target of 35,000 units. The Austrian-made vehicles will be sold in all Jeep markets outside North and South America. "SFT has become synonymous with high-quality, well-made products, continuous improvement, and a strong work ethic," notes Shamel Rushwin, DaimlerChrysler vp-international manufacturing.

Close gets closer The stake General Motors Corp. holds in Tokyo-based truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd. will rise from 37.5% to 49%. The word came shortly after the two OEMs announced they will jointly build a $320-million plant in Ohio to turn out diesel engines for GM-brand pickup trucks. GM's relationship with the Japanese manufacturer dates back almost 30 years.

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