In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that sought to stop Mexican motor carriers from operating beyond the 20-mile border region until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration completed a detailed environmental impact statement. The Supreme Court established that the FMCSA must grant operating authority to domestic and foreign carriers who meet the “fit, willing and able” criteria established by the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. FMCSA is not able to enforce environmental rules except as they apply to safety.
However, according to Oscar Moreno Martínez, executive manager of Mexico's top trucking organization, the National Cargo Carriers Chamber (Canacar) (www.canacar.com.mx), the Supreme Court's decision “in no way modifies the unilateral decision imposed by the U.S. Government in 2001. The basic problem is not with the environmental impact study — “That's just a red tape requisite that does nothing to modify the unfair regulations we have to meet to enter the U.S.”
Moreno, speaking on behalf of the organization's president, Leon Flores, says the status quo will continue, just as it has for years, bringing with it higher logistics costs for transport users.
“Conditions impeding entry of Mexican trucks into the U.S. persist, with no change in existing problems. There's been a misunderstanding in the press which claims this Supreme Court decision will allow entry of Mexican trucks deep into the U.S. The fact is, that is just untrue,” says Moreno.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. and Mexican governments allow trucks to travel back and forth without cabotage rights. “On those rights the governments have not come to terms, so the situation remains unchanged,” continues Moreno.
The U.S. states bordering Mexico regulate their own roads. In Mexico, where the federal government regulates federal roads, there has been no move to modify standing regulations. “This has more to do with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),” says Moreno.
He notes that regulations will have to be agreed upon by both federal governments through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Mexican Secretariat of Transportation and Communications. Even so, continues Moreno, if there ever is an agreement, U.S. border states will still be able to stipulate regulations for foreign carriers.
Moreno feels this is the right moment for all to seek agreement. In a way, the Supreme Court resolution clears the way for dialogue.
For now, says Moreno, “There is no interest by Mexican carriers to enter into the U.S., nor is there any interest on the part of U.S. carriers to enter Mexico.” LT
For more details, go to www.logisticstoday.com and click on: Opinion: “This time it's not about the trucks”