The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has asked President Obama to suspend any immediate plans to establish another cross-border trucking program.

The association, which represents more than 160,000 small business truckers, sent a letter contending that the onus is on the Mexican government to raise its regulatory standards to that of the United States and Canada before its motor carriers are allowed full access to U.S. highways.

After President Obama signed an appropriations bill that cuts off funding for a controversial cross-border trucking program with Meixco, the Obama administration said it wants to come up with an alternative approach to cross-border trucking. The Mexican government responded to the legislation cutting off the border pilot program with retaliatory tariffs.
In his letter to the president, Jim Johnston, OOIDA president, said the North American Free Trade Agreement does not require the United States to make exemptions for safety and security. He notes that under the NAFTA treaty, each party to the agreement has the right to "adopt, maintain or apply any standards-related measure, including any such measure relating to safety, the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, the environment or consumers, and any measure to ensure its enforcement or implementation" provided that such measures must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.

"Thus, one country may not treat service providers from another country any less favorably than it would 'in like circumstances' treat its own or another country's service providers."

Trucking companies in the United States are required to comply with consistently increasing safety, security and environmental regulations, which significantly increase their costs of operations, OOIDA notes.

"Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and drivers simply do not contend with a similar regulatory regime in their home country, nor must they contend with the corresponding regulatory compliance costs that encumber their U.S. counterparts," said Johnston in the letter.
"I only ask that your administration follow the laws that Congress has put in place to ensure that Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers comply with the same level of safety, security and environmental standards that already apply to U.S.-based companies and drivers. That compliance is necessary to make certain the safety and security of U.S. citizens as well as to ensure operational cost fairness for American trucking companies and truck drivers."

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the crossing was supposed to have been opened to border-state traffic in 1995 and to long-distance traffic in 2000. The opening was stalled until 2007, in part by difficult negotiations with Mexico, but mainly by the legislative and legal tactics of U.S. labor, owner-operator and citizen advocacy groups who fear loss of U.S. jobs to Mexican drivers and argue that Mexican trucks will not be safe.

For more info:
Appropriations Bill Will Cut Cross-Border Program," 3/11/09
"Obama Administration to Revisit Cross-Border Trucking," 3/13/09.
"Mexico Retaliates For Cutting Off Cross-Border Program", 3/17/09