NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Failure to Implement Trucking Provision Proves Costly

May 18, 2011

In 2007 the United States established a pilot program that allowed hundreds of Mexican trucks to make deliveries within the United States under a rigorous inspection regime.  But bowing to protectionist pressure once again, Congress defunded the program in 2009, prompting Mexico to impose legally authorized sanctions on $2.4 billion of U.S. exports, sanctions still in place today, says Daniel Griswold, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

  • Experience from the pilot program in 2007-2009 demonstrates that Mexican trucks and their drivers are fully capable of complying with all U.S. safety requirements.
  • An August 2009 report from the Department of Transportation's Inspector General found that only 1.2 percent of Mexican drivers that were inspected were placed out of service for violations, compared with nearly 7 percent of U.S. drivers who were inspected.
  • In February 2010, the Congressional Research Service reported that recent data provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that "Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks and that the drivers are generally safer than U.S. drivers."

The failure of Congress to allow implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement trucking provisions has proven costly to the United States in three important ways, says Griswold.

  • First, U.S. failure to comply has deprived our economy of the efficiencies of moving goods across our mutual border at lower cost.
  • Second, failure to comply has exposed U.S. exporters to sanctions on nearly 100 industrial and agricultural products, including meats, vegetables, fruits, chewing gum and chocolate.
  • Third, failure to comply has compromised the U.S. government's reputation as a good citizen of the global trading system.

Source: Daniel Griswold, "Mexican Trucks Spat Costly to Economy," Washington Times, May 10, 2011.

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