Mexican trucks could soon cross borders
DOT says its developing proposal to resolve Mexico truck dispute

Off and on since the project was killed, the DOT has made overtures that a new proposal was near.

The Trucker Staff

WASHINGTON — The Department of Transportation has developed a proposal that it feels can resolve the Mexico truck controversy, but is waiting until after the Nov. 2 election before discussing the plan when members of Congress, The Trucker has learned.
Sources said the DOT is planning to move swiftly after the elections to push the proposal forward.
Meanwhile, a Mexican official said Oct. 15 at a Washington luncheon that Mexico would not accept another pilot program as a solution, according to a report in the Journal of Commerce.

Free trade between the U.S. and Mexico is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement first passed in 1994, but the free flow of trucks between the two countries has been limited to a short-lived Cross Border Demonstration Project that began Sept. 6, 2007, as a year-long pilot project “designed to eliminate the current cumbersome, outdated and costly system of moving freight across the border, and replace it with an efficient, transparent and safe cross-border trucking process,” according to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration news release on April 30, 2007.

“The United States is working with Congress and Mexican officials to identify a mutually agreeable path forward,” DOT spokeswoman Olivia Alair told The Trucker Tuesday afternoon. “We believe we can find a solution that both addresses the concerns voiced by some in the U.S. Congress, and keeps us compliant with our international trade obligations. The DOT is developing a new proposal that will meet congressional concerns as well as our NAFTA commitments.”

The program was extended for two years in August 2008 under the Bush administration, but certain key members of Congress, among then Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., became vocal opponents of the project.

Then less than three months into the Obama administration, Dorgan included language in the $410 billion FY2009 appropriations bill signed by President Barack Obama that killed the project.
Mexico immediately initiated $2.4 billion in tariffs as a retaliatory measure.
Off and on since the project was killed, the DOT has made overtures that a new proposal was near.
Earlier this year, on two occasions, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood indicated to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., that a proposal was forthcoming.

On March 4, he told Murray during a Senate hearing that a new proposal was “very near.”
On May 6, he told another hearing chaired by Murray that a new proposal would be put forth “very soon.”
Murray’s home state has been hit hard by the tariffs, she told LaHood.
“If you put in place a demonstration project similar to what we had, it can begin, but it can be defunded at any time,” said Jose Luis Paz Vega, the head of the trade and North American Free Trade Agreement office at the Mexican embassy in Washington said at the Oct. 15 luncheon. “Mexico is not willing to take that any more. We need a program that is permanent, that has certainty, and complies with NAFTA. And we’re not willing to accept anything less than that.”

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