Wednesday, January 17, 2018

OOIDA: Highway safety must trump free trade, tariff ‘blackmail’


Wednesday, February 24, 2010
"Instead of caving into blackmail from Mexico, the safety of our nation’s highways should be the top priority of U.S. officials,” says OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
"Instead of caving into blackmail from Mexico, the safety of our nation’s highways should be the top priority of U.S. officials,” says OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — Almost one year after Mexico levied politically targeted tariffs on U.S. exports, U.S. trade officials have yet to question their legitimacy, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says. OOIDA is calling upon the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to immediately challenge the legality of the tariffs so that the debate regarding cross-border trucking with Mexico can be shifted from economics to highway safety and security.

Instead of questioning Mexico’s strong-arm tactics, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has indicated a willingness to give in to that government’s bullying and has publicly stated that the easiest way to put an end to the tariffs is to start yet another cross-border trucking program, according to OOIDA. Mexican officials not only have indicated that they plan to keep the tariffs in place, but also have hinted at imposing even higher tariffs if the cross-border trucking issue is not resolved to their liking.

In addition to lacking a regulatory infrastructure for trucking safety, Mexico has yet to fully address numerous other issues related to homeland security, criminal activity and its trucking industry, OOIDA said, adding that news reports appear daily about ongoing border violence and the inability of the Mexican government to maintain control over its drug cartels. OOIDA noted that customs officers regularly find narcotics and illicit cargo embedded in truckloads crossing the southern border into the U.S., and that recently a trailer with 18 tons of explosives was stolen in northern Mexico.

“These are just a few examples that show Mexico is nowhere near ready to have full access to U.S. highways,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “Too many safety and security issues have yet to be resolved. Those issues certainly haven’t improved in the past year. This is what officials from Mexico should be focused on, and our U.S. trade rep should not be bashful about telling it exactly that way.”

To date, there have been no reports from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or from Mexican officials as to what efforts Mexico has made to comply with the regulatory items stipulated to them for gaining access to U.S. highways, OODA said. Those items include safety regulations such as comparable drug and alcohol testing, commercial drivers licensing and tracking, and hours-of-service requirements, among other issues.

“Small-business truckers and professional drivers based in the U.S. must contend with an ever increasing regimen of safety, security and environmental regulations,” added Spencer. “Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and drivers simply do not contend with a similar regulatory regimen in their home country nor must they contend with the corresponding regulatory compliance costs that encumber their U.S. counterparts. Instead of caving into blackmail from Mexico, the safety of our nation’s highways should be the top priority of U.S. officials.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association represents the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 156,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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