A possible ban on long haul trucks from Mexico under a renegotiated North American Free Trade agreement won’t have much impact, according to a trade expert in New Mexico.
“In reality, very few Mexican or American trucking companies have taken advantage of that long haul trucking right under NAFTA,” said Jerry Pacheco, president of the Border Trade Alliance based in Santa Teresa, N.M.
Under NAFTA, trucks from the U.S., Canada and Mexico were supposed to be able carry cargo across North America but almost from the start, Mexico ran into opposition.
U.S. negotiators are now seeking to exclude or strictly limit long-haul trucks from Mexico, according to Bloomberg News, which cited unnamed sources who were not authorized to comment publicly.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has long opposed giving Mexican trucks a green light to travel throughout the U.S., saying that would cost U.S. jobs and pose a safety hazard.
Trucks from Mexico do cross the border, but most are limited to a 25-mile buffer zone where they transfer cargo to U.S. carriers or railroads.
After years of denying trucks access, the U.S. created a pilot program from 2011 to 2014 to allow select carriers to deliver merchandise anywhere in the country if they passed a pre-authorization safety audit and completed a compliance review.
The Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation evaluated the program and found the Mexican-owned trucks “performed no worse than U.S. or Canadian motor carriers” but said the small group of 15 trucking companies that participated in the pilot program was “insufficient to project safety performance overall.”
In 2015, the U.S. allowed a handful of licensed Mexican trucking companies to haul loads beyond the border without much fanfare.
“It’s like when you light a firecracker and you expect it to go boom and instead it’s poof,” said Pacheco.
Even so trucking is among the contentious issues as trade representatives from the U.S., Mexico and Canada try to renegotiate NAFTA. The 5th round of talks is scheduled for next week November 17-21st in Mexico City.