At a two-day conference in Mexico, Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater pledged to resolve the issues keeping the Mexico cross-border aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement from going into effect.
Slater met with Mexican Transportation Secretary Carlos Ruiz Sacristan to discuss the issue. Cross-border trucking was scheduled to go into effect in each nation's border states four years ago, but the Clinton administration suspended that provision in late 1995. Full cross-border trucking was slated to go into effect in 2000.
Discussions went very well, Slater said, and predicted an agreement would come before the end of the Clinton administration.
Teamsters President James Hoffa expressed concern about Slater's comments. "I am deeply disturbed that the administration is moving to open the U.S.-Mexico border to unsafe trucks and unqualified drivers," he said.
Five months ago, an audit by the U.S. DOT Inspector General found that unsafe trucks were bypassing inspections at the border, and those that were being inspected were nearly twice as likely to fail as U.S. or Canadian trucks.
The California Trucking Assn. and anti-truck group Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways have also come out against opening the border.