Mexican Secretary Optimistic About NAFTA

May 24, 1999

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Visiting Washington, DC, last week, Mexico's transportation secretary expressed confidence that cross-border trucking is close to becoming a reality.

The North American Free Trade Agreement would have allowed U.S. and Mexican truckers to cross freely into each other's border states beginning in December 1995. At the last minute, President Clinton, bowing to demands from organized labor and safety groups, put off that opening indefinitely. Another NAFTA deadline is looming; the agreement calls for complete trucking access in January 2000.
Carlos Ruiz Sacristan, the secretary of transportation and communications, was in Washington to meet with his U.S. transportation and communications counterparts. Ruiz says Mexico has worked to resolve U.S. questions over truck safety and inspections, and is "confident and positive that we are now on the right track to have a solution to this issue," according to the Associated Press.
A big question in the solution is whether to allow complete access immediately or slowly phase in the cross-border trucking by limiting access to the original border-state zone. Ruiz said he would favor a phased-in approach.
A spokesman for the Teamsters union said, "There's a very real possibility that the border will be opened in 2000," even though there "has been no meaningful improvement in either the Mexican system of safety or in the American system of border inspections."

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