Whether or not Mexican truckers gain full access to the U.S. likely depends on the upcoming presidential election, according to Roger Gray, a San Antonio bilateral trade specialist.
Gray recently told Reuters news service that a victory by Democratic contender Al Gore would likely mean that cross-border trucking provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement would not likely be implemented any time soon because of Gore's union backing.
Under NAFTA Mexican and U.S. truckers were to have access to each other's countries for international freight starting last January. The U.S. government has kept the borders closed, citing safety concerns. But both pro-government and opposition politicians in Mexico say the White House is bowing to the wishes of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Critics also say that President Clinton is hoping to secure the labor vote for Gore by delaying implementation of the NAFTA provisions.
Gray called the safety concerns "a complete fabrication," noting that there are trucks in Mexico and trucks in the U.S. that don't meet U.S. safety standards.
Gray, who co-authored the book "How to do Business in Mexico," says Texas Gov. George W. Bush would likely open the borders if elected.
"Mr. Bush, on the other hand, particularly being from Texas and recognizing the benefits to his home state, I think, is much more likely to play a positive role in the debate," he said.
Gray said both U.S. and Mexican companies stand to benefit from implementation of cross-border trucking.
"Anybody who is transporting north or south will be aided by the implementation," he said. "Their cost for transportation will be greatly reduced by not having to do the really, pretty silly sort of ballet at the border of shifting trailers and drivers and wasting a lot of time."