Two-Year Extension Announced for Mexican Trucks' Access

The Teamsters union hates it and some congressional Democrats are unhappy that a provision they inserted into an appropriations bill hasn't stopped it. "It," in this case, is DOT's "cross-border trucking demonstration project" that allows certain Mexican trucking companies to operate in the United States. The program has been extended for two years, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator John H. Hill said Monday. "I am pleased with the success of our demonstration project, but the participation has been limited by the uncertainty of the project’s longevity. We intend this extension to reassure trucking companies that they will have sufficient time to realize a return on their investment, and we anticipate additional participation with this extra time. The extension will ensure that the demonstration project can be reviewed and evaluated on the basis of a more comprehensive body of data."

FMCSA published a Federal Register notice yesterday announcing the extension. "FMCSA has adhered to the law and exceeded requirements established by Congress, both safety and otherwise, for implementing our obligations under NAFTA. To date, the project has shown that U.S. and Mexican carriers can engage in cross-border trucking operations in compliance with applicable laws and with no compromise to public safety or security. In fact, Mexican trucks and drivers have established compliance rates equal or better to those of U.S. trucks and drivers," Hill elaborated. "Since 75 percent of our trade with Mexico moves by truck, transportation efficiency is key to the competitiveness of our manufacturers, ranchers, and farmers. This project supports our economy by saving consumers' money, reducing shipping costs and giving U.S. trucking companies and drivers new opportunities. At a time of surging goods exports, we could hardly choose a worse time to turn our back on open trade and investment and embrace a protectionist agenda, especially in the very sector that makes trade in goods and services possible."

The project is operated as a pilot program, governed by statute, and can run for up to three years, the agency said. The notice is available at http://federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2008-17946_PI.pdf.

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