Cross-border trucking makes the cut in proposed DOT budget
February 18, 2011 - LM Editorial
With a high level of acrimony surrounding the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking program in recent years, there are some recent signs that the effort may be regaining its footing.
The most recent example of this a $50.4 million request included in the Department of Transportation’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget “to support cross-border inspections and the Mexican long-haul program.”
While the details of how the funding would be allocated were short on specifics, it did note that $5 million of the existing funds are dedicated to initiate a multi-year strategy for improving facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In 2009, the pilot program for cross-border trucking was eliminated as part of the White House’s $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act, H.R. 4105. Even through this program-killing measure was approved, that Obama administration said it would work to create a new cross-border, long distance trucking program between the U.S. and Mexico. Soon after the program was eliminated, the Mexican government said it would place tariffs on roughly 90 American agricultural and manufactured exports as payback for the U.S. decision to shutter the program.
These tariffs amount to $2.4 billion of American goods, ranging from fruit juices to pet food to deodorant, among others, ranging from 10 percent to 45 percent, with affected products coming from 40 states
In January, LaHood shared “an initial concept document” with members of Congress for a long-haul cross-border Mexican trucking program. This document prioritizes safety while satisfying the United States’ international obligations.
“This [program] is the law, and it is part of NAFTA,” said LaHood at an industry conference earlier this year. “We have to do it, and when it was suspended by Congress, I met with more than 30 members of Congress to tell them we need to get this going again. Every member talked about safety, as did trucking groups and unions. Our proposal addresses a lot of the safety issues, and now a team of DOT safety officials are meeting with Mexican officials to flesh out a final proposal, because we have to under NAFTA.”
LaHood said it is likely there will be a final agreement by mid-year for the cross-border trucking program, adding that there is pent-up demand from both Mexico and the U.S. to get a final plan in place. He added that this new plan was done without input from the Mexican government and was based largely on feedback from Congress and industry stakeholders.
For more articles on U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking, please click here.
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