The United States and Mexico have finally resolved the dispute over long-haul, cross-border trucking services between the two countries. The signing of the agreement will pave the way for Mexico to lift retaliatory tariffs it imposed more than two years ago on more than $2 billion in U.S. manufactured goods and agricultural products.
The agreement also provides that Mexico will suspend 50% of the retaliatory tariffs within ten days. Mexico will suspend the remainder of the tariffs within five days of the first Mexican trucking company receiving its U.S. operating authority. As a result, Mexican tariffs that now range from 5 to 25% on various U.S. agricultural and industrial products such as apples, pork products and personal care products will be immediately cut in half and will disappear entirely within a few months.
“By opening the door to long-haul trucking between the United States and Mexico, America’s third largest trading partner, we will create jobs and opportunity for our people and support economic development in both nations,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
After the previous cross-border trucking program was terminated in March 2009, Secretary LaHood and other Obama Administration officials met with lawmakers, safety advocates, industry representatives and others to address a broad range of concerns, which the Department took into account as it worked with Mexico to develop a new program. The final program addresses the recommendations of over 2,000 commenters to the proposal issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in April.
As a result of these meetings, and in consultation with Mexico, trucks will be required to comply with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and must have electronic monitoring systems to track hours-of-service compliance. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation will review the complete driving record of each driver and require all drug testing samples to be analyzed in Department of Health and Human Services-certified laboratories located in the U.S. The Department will also require drivers to undergo an assessment of their ability to understand the English language and U.S. traffic signs. The new agreement also ensures that Mexico will provide reciprocal authority for U.S. carriers to engage in cross-border long-haul operations into that country.
The two agreements implementing the new cross-border trucking program and the lifting of the tariffs are the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes of the United Mexican States on Cross-Border Motor Trucking (MOU) and the Agreement on Lifting of Retaliatory Measures between the Office of the United States Trade Representative of the United States of America and the Secretaría de Economía of the United Mexican States. These agreements build upon the progress announced by Presidents Obama and Calderon in early March.