Currently, the United States only allows Mexican freight haulers to travel about 20 miles away from the border when delivering cargo. But the federal government is clearing the way for Mexican trucks to be able to drive throughout the United States — a requirement of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

A select group of Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make the trip beyond the 20-mile zone as part of a pilot program.

According to a Bloomberg News story in today’s Houston Chronicle:

The inspection program is the last of 22 safety measures the U.S.

Congress ordered in 2002 before allowing Mexican trucks and drivers to operate beyond commercial zones about 25 miles from the border. Last year, trade between Mexico and the U.S. increased 14 percent to $332 billion, with 80 percent of goods transported by truck.

“To keep this trade flowing today and help it grow even more tomorrow, we must begin allowing these trucks to operate beyond border zones,”

(Transportation Secretary Mary) Peters said during a visit to Transportes Olympic, a Monterrey-based transportation company, where the first inspection was made. “But prior to this becoming a reality, we must ensure that vehicles and drivers meet tough U.S. safety standards.”

Peters said Mexican trucks won’t be allowed to travel into the interior of the U.S. under the current program. The U.S. and Mexico are negotiating a program that would allow Mexican trucks to travel into the U.S., she said, and declined to say when the program may be announced.

Those trucks — many of which are manufactured and driven in the United States and then handed down — typically produce dirtier emissions than trucks here, because they’re older and have degraded emission-control systems. That’s just one issue facing the proposal.

The Teamsters and others are already protesting the deal, which would reduce the cargo they haul.


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