Mexican Motor Carriers Can Apply to Cross Border for Long-Haul Trucking

January 26, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Mexican motor carriers will soon be able to apply for authority to conduct long-haul, cross-border trucking services in the United States.

The policy change marks a milestone in the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and is expected to result in the permanent termination of more than $2 billion in annual retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. It follows a three-year pilot program that tested and validated the safety of Mexican trucking companies to operate long-haul in the United States, the DOT said.

“Data from the three-year pilot program, and additional analysis on almost 1,000 other Mexican long-haul trucking companies that transport goods into the United States, proved that Mexican carriers demonstrate a level of safety at least as high as their American and Canadian counterparts,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in the department’s announcement.

Fifteen trucking companies from Mexico enrolled in the pilot that ended in October 2014, crossing the border more than 28,000 times, traveling more than 1.5 million miles in-country and undergoing more than 5,500 safety inspections by American officials.

Data collected on the pilot carriers, and an additional 952 Mexican-owned trucking companies that also operated long-haul in the United States during the same 36-month period under a pre-existing authority, showed that companies from Mexico had violation, driver and vehicle out-of-service rates that met the level of safety as American and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers.

In 2001, a NAFTA Dispute Settlement panel ruled the United States was not in compliance with the cross-border trucking provisions of the agreement. After a 2009 appropriations bill halted a previous demonstration project, Mexico exercised its option to take retaliatory measures granted by a NAFTA Arbitration Panel and imposed more than $2 billion in annual tariffs on exports of U.S. agriculture, personal care products and manufacturing goods.

Mexico suspended the tariffs after the new pilot program began in 2011 and previously said it would terminate the tariffs permanently when U.S.-Mexican trucking operations are normalized.

Companies from Mexico that apply for long-haul operating authority will be required to pass a Pre-Authorization Safety Audit to confirm they have adequate safety management programs in place, including systems for monitoring hours-of-service and to conduct drug testing using an HHS-certified lab.

Additionally, all drivers must possess a valid U.S. Commercial Driver’s License or a Mexican Licencia Federal de Conductor, and must meet the agency’s English language proficiency requirements.

Like Canadian companies that are granted U.S. operating authority, carriers and drivers from Mexico are required to comply with all laws and regulations, including regular border and random roadside inspections.

Once the motor carrier is approved, their vehicles will be required to undergo a 37-point North American Standard Level 1 inspection every 90 days for at least four years.

American trucking companies have been able to apply for and operate long-haul routes in Mexico through NAFTA since 2007. Currently, five U.S. companies use this authority to transport international goods into Mexico.

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