President Obama blinks
in NAFTA truck dispute
Mar 17, 2009 1:45 PM
President Obama has tasked the Department of Transportation (DOT) and others to propose legislation to meet the NAFTA agreement that mandates allowing Mexican-licensed trucks to travel beyond commercial zones along the US-Mexico border.
The President's response came after Mexico announced March 16 its intent to take retaliatory actions against a range of US exports as a result a new US law that would prevent the trucks traveling beyond the US-Mexico border.
Obama wants DOT and others to create a new trucking project that will meet the "legitimate concerns of Congress and our NAFTA commitments," the White House said.
According to news reports, Mexico Minister of Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos said the truck ban hurts competitiveness and violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In addition, comments from other US sectors had suggested earlier that stopping the program would violate treaty agreements between the US and Mexico.
"Senator Dorgan, the sponsor of the amendment that ended the program, has written to us to express his willingness to work with the administration in good faith to address this issue," the White House information stated.
President Obama will ask DOT to work with the US Trade Representative and the Department of State, along with leaders in Congress and Mexican officials to craft new legislation, according to the information.
In September of 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the cross-border trucking demonstration project for two years, and FMCSA-authorized Mexican trucks are continuing to participate. In 2007, Congress mandated that the demonstration project be operated as a pilot program, which is governed by statute and can run for up to three years. The FMCSA program is part of the southern border truck and bus crossing provisions of NAFTA. The program has been opposed since its inception by several groups, including the Teamsters, Public Citizen, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
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