This editorial was published today in the San Antonio Express News and gives their views on opening up the borders to Mexican trucks.
The Department of Transportation has sent Congress a “concept document” that would get a long-delayed truck program with Mexico moving again. It’s about time.
The long-haul truck program is a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was approved by Congress in 1993 and went into effect in 1994. The provision permits long-haul truckers from the United States and Mexico to carry shipments across the border.
The United States and Canada put a long-haul program in place in 1982. Seventeen years after NAFTA, there’s still no program in place between the United States and Mexico.
There was, briefly, in 2007, when the Bush administration started a pilot program. The limited program addressed key concerns by putting U.S. truck inspectors in Mexico, holding Mexican trucks to the same safety standards as U.S. trucks and required Mexican drivers to obtain insurance from U.S.-licensed firms.
During the test period, Mexican drivers had a better safety record than their American counterparts.
In 2009, the Democrat-majority Congress and the Obama administration killed the test program. Mexico retaliated by raising tariffs on 89 U.S. products.
A March 2010 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers estimated the tariffs had caused the loss of $2.6 billion in U.S. exports and 25,000 American jobs. Texas agricultural exports were particularly hard hit.
In August, the Mexican government revised the tariff list to cover 99 categories of American goods.
The self-inflicted wound of a trade war with Mexico would be futile any time. It’s particularly harmful during a recession. It’s also completely unnecessary. Once the trucks start moving, so will U.S. exports.
The United States needs to comply with its NAFTA commitments.
The Obama administration and Congress should move swiftly to get a new, safe version of the pilot trucking program in operation.