Photo: Mexico Trucking Dispute
Transportes Olympic, a Monterrey, Mexico-based carrier, completed a safety audit to become the first Mexican trucking company to receive Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration permission to operate beyond the U.S. commercial border zone on Friday.
As a result, Mexico removed the remaining 50% of its tariffs against U.S.-made products, Mexico’s embassy in Washington announced. Mexico had imposed tariffs of between 5 and 25% to $2.4 billion worth of U.S. goods yearly since March 2009.
The first 50% of the tariffs had been lifted in July after the United States and Mexico signed an agreement on the second cross-border trucking program, allowing carriers from both countries to make deliveries in each other’s country beyond the border zone.
The tariffs applied to a wide range of U.S.-made goods. Mexico imposed them when Congress suddenly eliminated funding for the 2007-09 cross-border trucking pilot project, which was an attempt to meet a requirement of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
Another Mexican carrier, Grupo Behr of Baja, CA, has also applied for authority but is under review by regulators due to objections raised against its application.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. and the Teamsters union pointed out that Grupo Behr’s vehicle out-of-service rate and maintenance scores were worse than the U.S. average. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety noted the carrier had 40 vehicle violations in the last two years.
“Based on the information provided by Advocates, OOIDA, and Teamsters, the agency is conducting additional reviews of Grupo Behr’s inspections and vehicles,” the FMCSA said in an Oct. 14 Federal Register notice. “As a result, the agency will not issue long- haul operating authority to Grupo Behr until such time as this review is complete.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., reiterated his concerns for the cross-border trucking program. DeFazio was one of several Congressmen who led the effort to kill the first program.
“As I have said many times, a cross-border trucking program stands to have significant impacts on safety, security and job loss,” DeFazio said in a statement released by his office. “Until these impacts are fully addressed, we should put the brakes on cross-border operations. Unfortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the first permit to launch a new pilot program. Adding insult to injury, the Mexican carriers approved will be outfitted with vital safety equipment (EOBRs) paid for by American taxpayers. It is simply unacceptable that U.S. truckers, through their fuel tax, will subsidize the cost of doing business for these Mexican carriers. I will continue to push my legislation that would forbid this kind of expenditure from the Trust Fund.
“Until that happens, we will remain hostage to provisions that opened the door for this ill-conceived cross-border trucking program, and expose yet another American industry to lost jobs,” the Congressman said.
Transportes Olympic plans to make its first U.S. delivery on Oct. 21 or 22, said Guillermo Perez, the company’s transport manager. The U.S. operation will start small - two trucks and one driver.