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Today, we’re taking a look at the forthcoming cross border trucking deal with Mexico and the US:
The cross border trucking deal between the US and Mexico is looking like a done deal after the announcement made by President Obama and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon. The deal has been a long time coming, but President Obama has apparently given in to increasing pressure from US exporters and supporters of NAFTA to take action over the international trade dispute which has cost US companies billions of dollars in punitive tariffs and lost market share.
While the trucking deal is good news for US exporters who have been getting slaughtered in the Mexican markets (and remember that Mexico is one of the largest of the US’ trading partners), others are not so happy about the deal.
Trucking and equipment safety is high on the list of objections for those who oppose the deal.
The US has made great strides in trucking road safety over the last twenty years. Current statistics for trucking accidents, injuries and fatalities are at all-time lows, however it has taken an enormous investment in both terms of financial investment, training, selection and compliance procedures backed by increasingly stringent monitoring and enforcement to get it that way.
Now enter Mexican drivers and Mexican trucks.
The big question is just how safe are they?
Part of the cross border truck deal is that the US taxpayer will pay to fit Electronic OnBoard Recorders (EOBRs) in every Mexican truck seeking authorization to enter the United States under the agreement. The total cost is not that high in the scheme of things ($4.3 million versus billions of dollars of trade and $2.4 billion savings in no more tariffs), but this begs the question, if an operator isn’t prepared to pay for an EOBR should they be in the trucking business to begin with, in the US?
US Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has written to the US transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the matter. DeFazio makes a very valid point – the FMCSA is paying out $4.3 million collected by trucker fuel taxes to subsidize Mexican carriers. With the average Mexican trucker paid a third of US drivers, US carriers are steeling themselves for an assault on their business in the US by south of the border operators.