The U.S. and Mexico, moving to end a seemingly intractable trade dispute, signed agreements Wednesday establishing a cross-border trucking pilot project and phasing out punitive Mexican tariffs on U.S. goods.
The first trucks enrolled in the program could operate within the U.S. as early as the end of August, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials.
Mexico will suspend 50 percent of its punitive tariffs within 10 days, and suspend the rest when the first Mexican carrier in the program receives operating authority.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed the agreements in Mexico City, infuriating opponents of an agreement that independent truckers and labor groups believe will bring lower-cost and poorly supervised Mexican operators into competition with American drivers.
“If the agreement is good for the U.S. why the hell is he sneaking down there to sign it?” said Jim Johnston, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents more than 160,000 independent truckers.
“Seems like the administration is dead set on caving to Mexico’s shakedown regardless of the costs to the American public and our tax coffers,” Johnston said.
The OOIDA and the Teamsters union fiercely oppose allowing Mexican truckers to operate beyond the border commercial zone, but it’s not clear if they will be able to convince Congress to overturn the cross-border trucking agreement.
U.S. exporters have pushed for a new agreement since Mexico imposed $2.4 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods after a Bush-era trucking project was shut down.
The FMCSA published the final details on the program will be available in the Federal Register and are available on the FMCSA Web site.
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc