A broad-based coalition of U.S. business interests urged the Trump administration today not to eliminate the trucking provisions embedded in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as part of a revised agreement currently being negotiated by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, the coalition focused on maintaining language in NAFTA that allows qualified Mexican truckers to operate in the U.S. beyond the long-established 25-mile commercial zones along the border. The provision has been the subject of intense debate for years, with U.S. organized labor and independent truckers contending that allowing Mexican truckers into U.S. commerce jeopardizes road and highway safety because they generally operate less safely than do U.S. carriers and drivers.
In the letter, the group said that it depends on "efficient border crossings to remain competitive," and that an increase in cross-border traffic is "putting more and more pressure on our southern border land ports." Allowing Mexican carriers to haul beyond the border zones "will help alleviate some of the congestion at the border, (thus) creating more efficiency through the system," the group said.
The NAFTA language bars Mexican carriers and drivers from hauling freight between U.S. markets, a point raised by the group in its letter to beat back arguments that U.S. drivers would face competitive threats from their Mexican counterparts. It added that all Mexican applicants undergo a thorough vetting process by U.S. regulators, and if selected they must follow all U.S. laws and regulations.
Mexican carriers operating beyond the border zones have an excellent safety record, the group said.