U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with Mexico's top transportation official Monday in Mexico to discuss transportation issues and agreed to establish a working group to consider the next steps of the controversial and long-delayed cross-border trucking program.
Trucks line up near the border in Laredo, Texas.
Trucks line up near the border in Laredo, Texas.

LaHood met with Secretary of Communications and Transportation Juan Molinar Horcasitas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. According to a joint press release, during the meeting, both officials agreed on the importance of cooperating in areas of mutual interest to ensure the safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability of the two transportation systems.

They also reviewed the status of existing and prospective rail and highway projects in the border region and reaffirmed their commitment to work closely with other border stakeholders to ensure coordinated transportation planning on infrastructure issues.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Mexico border 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. After Congress cut off a cross-border trucking pilot program a year ago by prohibiting funding for such a program, the Mexican government slapped $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.