Border dispute continues to hurt U.S. trucking interests

Border dispute continues to hurt U.S. trucking interests

The one-year mark has come and gone, and we still don’t have a resolution to the cross-border trucking dispute between the U.S. and Mexico.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had a conference call the other day to highlight the effect the ban on trucks crossing the border has had in this country. You can read more about the long history of the dispute here.

trucks.jpgThe Chamber is claiming that more than $1.5 billion of manufactured products and $900 million in U.S. agricultural products, not to mention 25,000 jobs, have been impacted by 90 tariffs Mexico placed on U.S. goods in the past year. I don’t know how accurate these estimates are, but I’m sure there has been an impact.

Shortly after the plug was pulled on the cross-border demonstration project last March, President Obama announced a new program would be a priority. We’re still waiting.

In the meantime, lawsuits have been filed, business has suffered, tariffs have been enacted, and jobs have been lost. Not to mention the real crux of the problem: the violation of international law by the U.S.

Whether you agree or not with the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), one result of that was to open the borders. When it comes to trucking, the U.S.-Mexican border has never been truly open. Pressured by the Teamsters and other groups who claim that Mexican trucks are not safe to be on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Congress, and ultimately the Obama Administration, stopped the program that allowed up to 100 carriers from Mexico to operate within the borders of the U.S. and up to 100 carriers from the U.S. to operate in Mexico.

It should be noted that we have no such problem with our friends to the north. Canadian carriers can drive into the U.S., make deliveries and continue back to Canada. What they can’t do is drive to New York to make a delivery and then to Chicago for a pickup.

That system seems to be working. Why can’t we enact something similar with Mexico? Oh yeah, Mexican trucks are not held to the same safety standards as U.S. carriers. But that is easily resolvable, in my opinion, if anyone cared about fixing the problem and obeying international law. If a Mexican carrier wants to operate inside the U.S. (they are currently allowed to travel inside a 25-mile commercial zone), just require the trucks and drivers to adhere to U.S. regulations, including hours-of-service.

It really is that simple. Except I’m not a politician.