By Miriam Raftery
April 26, 2010 (Washington D.C.) – Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista) have joined a bipartisan coalition of 78 Congressional members asking that the U.S. renegotiate the U.S.-Mexico trucking program created under NAFTA. The members sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Ambassador Ronald Kirk, following an announcement that the U.S. and Mexico have established a working group to discuss the cross-border trucking issue.
“Reinstating the cross-border trucking program would directly undermine our nation’s border security, endanger public safety, and disadvantage American trucking companies,” Hunter stated last week in a press release.
He added, “The provision of NAFTA that created this program should be renegotiated to eliminate any requirement that opens the U.S.-Mexico border to dangerous trucking activity and, in turn, remove retaliatory tariffs imposed on American products.”
In 2009, Mexico imposed tariffs on 89 U.S. products in direct response to a decision to terminate the cross-border program for Mexican truckers, Hunter noted.
In the letter, members of Congress also cited concerns over safety standards on Mexican trucks, which are not required to meet the stringent safety requirements or driver’s licensing standards of U.S.-owned trucking companies. “The addition of tens of thousands of substandard Mexican trucks to our roads would jeopardize the safety of our traveling public,” the letter stated. Those trucks could travel through all 48 states in the continental U.S.
A brief cross-border demonstration program was a “poor test” of true safety levels, the letter states, arguing that the Department of Transportation cherry-picked participants with the highest safety records for the pilot.
Moreover, opening the border to Mexican trucks would cause job losses and drive American trucking companies out of business due to low wages paid by firms in Mexico. “Opening our border to Mexican trucks is a lose-lose for U.S. workers and the traveling public,” the letter concludes.