A group of about 100 organizations representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, and transportation and logistics providers has spoken as a unified voice in a letter Tuesday urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to reconsider a proposal it has made in its negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement to return restrictions on Mexican trucks coming into the U.S.
Proclaiming NAFTA to be “the worst trade deal ever made,” President Donald Trump has pushed forward on a campaign promise to renegotiate the trade deal, which was enacted in 1994, threatening to cancel the pact if it could not be reworked to his satisfaction. The U.S. has been in active negotiations with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico since August.
United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer’s office recently proposed eliminating the provision in NAFTA that allows for American and Mexican trucks to cross the border and travel in each other’s country. The truck provision has been contentious from the start, with various lobbying interests managing to keep Mexican trucks restricted to border zones in the U.S. Mexico retaliated by placing tariffs on American goods.
The political jousting finally ended when The U.S. Department of Transportation gave Mexican trucks the green light to ply America’s highways in 2015, despite continued objections, most notably from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
In their letter, addressed to Lighthizer, the consortium made its case to keep the provision.
“We depend on the trucking industry, both American and Mexican, to safely and efficiently haul our products in both countries,” the letter states. “Eliminating NAFTA trucking, including any investment protections, would have a long-term negative impact on our businesses.”
Trade has increased significantly between the two countries, and, as the letter points out, even with trucks passing through as they do now, border crossings are already congested. Allowing trucks to travel beyond the border zones alleviates that congestion.
The letter also addressed other arguments that have been made against allowing Mexican trucks into the country.
“Mexican carriers and drivers are not permitted to haul domestic U.S. freight, so they are not competing with U.S. carriers and drivers,” the letter reads. “In fact, they often work in tandem with their U.S. motor carrier partners.”
This partnership helps the countries to remain competitive globally, the letter states.
As it stands, Mexican trucks are not simply being allowed to cross the border at will, the letter explains. “Mexican carriers undergo a case-by-case review process before the U.S Department of Transportation grants them authority to operate,” it says. “These carriers must adhere to all U.S. laws and regulations.”
The letter also makes the point that since being allowed to drive in the U.S., Mexican drivers have compiled an excellent safety record.