LaHood says Mexican truckers may have green light
January 19, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told shippers at the SMC3 annual winter meeting in Atlanta yesterday that cross-border trucking would be revived “as soon as possible.”
“President Obama made a commitment to fulfill our obligations under NAFTA – and this is part of it,” he said. “We need to ensure that Mexican trucks on American roadways are held to rigorous safety standards – just as American trucks are. We also need to address retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of U.S. products. They’ve hit 99 major exports like apples, grapes, pears, potatoes, Christmas trees, and pork products. And they’re costing jobs.”
LaHood reminded shippers that his department released a concept document that will serve as a starting-point for negotiations with Mexico.
“It incorporates safety suggestions from members of Congress, the trucking industry, labor, and safety advocates,” he said. “Ultimately, we will put forward a proposal for your consideration and comment.”
He won’t have to wait long to receive comment from U.S. organized labor factions, however.
“It makes no sense to let Mexico’s trucking companies take American truck drivers’ jobs and depress American workers’ wages,” said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa.
In comments made last week, he told Michigan factory workers that the union “will fight like hell” against opening the border to Mexican trucks.
“We simply don’t believe U.S. taxpayers should pay to let more Mexican companies depress American workers’ wages,” he said.
The jobs issue notwithstanding, some industry analysts have noted that NAFTA compliance is a “win” for the supply chain community.
“The domestic and intermodal carrier can combine in partnership with the shipper to build cross-border services,” noted William J. Rennicke, a partner in Oliver Wyman’s corporate finance practice.
“Often the carriers can provide effective process management in various parts of the supply chain without having the shipper make a large investment in a remote operation,” he said.
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