U.S. Government Releases Guidelines for Mexican Truck Drivers to Operate on U.S. Roads
In early May, the US government released the long-awaited guidelines on access for Mexican trucks to US roads, bringing the five-year dispute one step closer to resolution.
The release of the guidelines follows the announcement by the US government of its intention to comply with a ruling by a special panel created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The panel ruled last year that the US must allow full access to Mexican trucks or offer monetary compensation to Mexico (see SourceMex, (see SourceMex, 2001- 02-14).
Mexico requested the creation of the panel in 1998 because of the consistent refusal of the US to allow access to Mexican trucks beyond a 32-km zone inside the US-Mexico border (see SourceMex, 1998-08-23).
Under NAFTA guidelines, the US had committed to gradually open its roads to Mexican trucks in 1995, granting full access to its territory by 2000. But former US President Bill Clinton's administration refused to open US roads to Mexican truckers, citing concerns about the wide difference in requirements in each country regarding weight, size, insurance coverage, and the age of the Mexican trucking fleet (see SourceMex, 1994-02-23, 1996-01-17).
Mexico urges US to open border before 2002
The Mexican government, while pleased with the change in the stance of the US government under President George W. Bush's administration, is nevertheless concerned about some of the guidelines that will govern the new opening. For example, Economy Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez has called on the US to open the border sooner than the effective date of Jan. 1, 2002, announced by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Derbez, who was scheduled to meet with US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and other US officials in early May, was also expected to bring up concerns from the Mexican trucking industry about strict guidelines the US will require for Mexican truck drivers. He said Mexican truck drivers are concerned that the guidelines will make them subject to discrimination.
The DOT guidelines require all Mexican truck drivers traveling into the interior of the US to apply for a permit and submit to an audit every 18 months. To receive the permit, which will cost US$300, drivers must offer proof of insurance and documents listing their medical and work histories. Drivers will also have to show English-language proficiency and submit to drug and alcohol tests.
The economy secretary said the Fox administration is considering rejecting the US regulations and instead asking to pay economic compensation, an option allowed under the ruling issued by the special NAFTA panel. …