The United States has agreed to a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to enter this country. The deal brings the U.S. into compliance with the North American Free Trade Agreement, which called for such an arrangement back in the early 1990s. President Barack Obama deserves credit for bucking labor objections to make the deal.
FROM THE DETROIT NEWS
The deal, which still has to be approved by Congress, would also result in Mexico beginning to lift more than $2 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods, which it slapped on a number of products in retaliation for the U.S. violation of NAFTA.
The arrangement returns this country to its position in 2007, when then-President George W. Bush arranged a similar pilot program that was ultimately abandoned when Congress refused to fund it. The chief stumbling block to the U.S. honoring its treaty obligations has been objections from the Teamsters Union, which has loudly and forcefully objected to allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. highways.
The new arrangement imposes more requirements than the NAFTA agreement called for, but it’s a start. Mexican truckers will have to show adequate proficiency in English and compliance with drug and safety standards.
The Wall Street Journal reports that they will also have to carry electronic monitors to show that they are engaged only in cross-border traffic rather than carrying cargoes from point to point within the United States.
Once the first Mexican trucks are allowed to deliver cargo into the U.S., the Mexican government will begin to dismantle the tariffs.
The Journal reports that the agreement headed off even more tariffs that would have been imposed on U.S. exports to Mexico.
The effective truck ban and willful U.S. violation of NAFTA had long been a sore point between the two nations. The agreement will by no means solve all of these issues, which also include illegal immigration by Mexican nationals and Mexican drug cartel violence affecting U.S. borderlands, but it should demonstrate U.S. good faith in attempting to smooth relations with Mexico.
It also carries with it the possibility of lower prices on some goods imported from Mexico for American consumers and more profits from U.S. exports to Mexico.
Congress should resist pressure from labor — particularly from the Teamsters — and agree to the arrangement. At the very least, it would demonstrate that this nation can honor its treaty obligations. Cross-border trucking for both nations, after all, was promised more than 20 years ago.