WASHINGTON - A proposal for reestablishing U.S. roads to Mexican trucking companies, describing it as a dawning for negotiations focused at ending a persisting conflict between the two countries, was released by the Obama administration Thursday.
The Department of Transportation proposal outlines in general terms requirements that Mexican long-haul truck carriers would have to satisfy, along with a safety audit, U.S. Emissions standards, and driver background checks.
According to transportation officials, the proposal leaves a timetable and information on how many trucks would be permitted to drive in the U.S. From Mexico to be settled through negotiation, which are anticipated to start very soon.
Allowing Mexican carriers to set foot in the U.S. is being frowned at by the U.S. truck drivers. They argue that Mexican trucks don't have to meet as rigid safety and environmental standards as their U.S. Counterparts, which allows to them an economic leverage.
"I am deeply disappointed by this proposal," International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. "Why would the DOT propose to threaten U.S. truck drivers' and warehouse workers' jobs when unemployment is so high? And why would we do it when drug cartel violence along the border is just getting worse?"
The lack of access in the U.S. has been protested by Mexico as a breach on the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. After the legislative body fell short to breath new life to a pilot program that allowed a constrained number of Mexican trucking companies transport freight beyond a 25-mile U.S. Commercial zone in March 2009, Mexico charged higher tariffs on 89 U.S. Products. Furthermore, Mexico included new products to the list after the U.S. failed to introduce a proposal for fixing the trucking concern.
It was revealed by Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., that the producers of potatoes, pears, and apples in her state have been badly affected.
Cantwell said in response to the proposal, "We are depending on the administration to work quickly and forcefully to convince Mexico to remove the barriers it is imposing on our agricultural exports."
The proposal was also gladly received by the U.S. industry officials.
"We can't say the Mexican trucking dispute is over, but we can now say that, at last, the end appears to be in sight," Doug Goudie, the National Association of Manufacturers' trade policy director, said in a statement.
However independent truckers believe drug-related violence in Mexico will probably keep their members from hauling goods south across the border, making a surge in entrance to the U.S. by Mexican carriers an unfair deal.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade association for truckers explained, "U.S. truckers would be forced to forfeit their own economic opportunities while companies and drivers from Mexico, free from equivalent regulatory burdens, take over their traffic lanes."