It was widely reported last week that a panel of arbitrators had made a preliminary ruling against the Clinton administration's blocking of North American Free Trade Agreement provisions allowing Mexican trucks wider access to the United States.
The NAFTA panel ruling was characterized by OOIDA’s executive vice president Todd Spencer as "absurd." OOIDA released a statement that said it stands firm on its conviction that the United States is not ready to open its arms to Mexican trucks.
"The commercial vehicle safety systems in Mexico are still in their infancy when compared to the United States," Spencer said. "The compatibility of Mexican information systems with those in the U.S. that will be needed to assure safety compliance to the American public just isn’t there."
Spencer, who was not surprised by the panel’s ruling, says the NAFTA treaty was never about people or truckers, but about business. "Safety on America’s highways, compliance with cabotage regulation and immigration laws are not priority considerations with NAFTA proponents," he says.
"We also have suspicions that the Immigration and Naturalization Service may be basically looking the other way on allowing unauthorized workers to enter the U.S.," he added. "If safety is the highest of the administration’s transportation priorities, as it claims, then there is still work to be done before the borders open."
OOIDA is not alone in its opposition. Republican Congressman Sherrod Brown from Ohio vowed to fight the ruling last week.
Brown introduced legislation back in September that would call on the United States to refuse Mexican trucks access to U.S. roads regardless of the NAFTA dispute ruling.
The final ruling should be announced in early January and will go into effect 30 days after it is announced.