Mexicans Say the Supreme Court Ruling Wont Alter NAFTA Realities

June 22, 2004
The U. S. Supreme Courts decision on the environmental impact of permitting entry of Mexican trucks into the U.S. in no way modifies the unilateral decision

The U. S. Supreme Court’s decision on the environmental impact of permitting entry of Mexican trucks into the U.S. “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.,” says Oscar Moreno Martínez, executive manager of Mexico’s top trucking organization, the National Cargo Carriers Chamber (Canacar).

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: 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 to for all to seek agreement. In a way, the Supreme Court resolution clears the way for dialogue.

Despite the hoopla over the NAFTA chapter on transportation, trade between Mexico and the U.S. is increasing, with transportation of goods in both directions, seemingly despite willingness on the part of the U.S., spurred by the Teamsters. There are improving relationships between business partners on both sides of the border. “This cooperation is due, in part, to the exchange of trailers which has been going on for many years and the good relationships we have with American carriers,” adds Moreno. “Ours is a highly functional trade practice. It is true, however, that it comes at higher costs to shippers, because in practice, old trucks handle border transfers. It just doesn’t pay to have a $100,000 tractor standing at the border while handoffs may take as long as two days. This would be like using a Mercedes to buy tortillas at the corner store.”

Newer, better trucks on both sides of the border are used for long distance hauls. Older trucks make most practical sense at the bottlenecks along the border. 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.”

Moreno says Mexican carriers have a great deal of sympathy with Canadian carriers, “because when they first signed their commercial treaty with the U.S., they experienced a very similar situation. “The fact that the U. S. is between Canada and Mexico forces us to have increasingly closer relationships with them,” he says, and laughingly adds, “Perhaps if someone took the U. S. away from the middle, we would have an excellent working relationship.”