Obama hypocritical on Mexican trucks, says Post, BTA
The Obama administration and Congress need to quickly repair the damage caused by shutting down Mexican long-haul trucks operating in the United States, the Washington Post and the Border Trade Alliance said Monday.
The order to terminate a Bush administration pilot program that allowed a limited number of Mexican trucks to operate beyond the narrow border commercial zone under close monitoring was contained in the fiscal 2009 omnibus appropriations act enacted earlier this month. After patiently waiting for almost 15 years for the United States to comply with the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico has retaliated by slapping tariffs of 10 percent to 45 percent on U.S. exports of 90 agricultural and manufactured goods. The tariffs are estimated to cost the U.S. economy $2.4 billion in lost sales per year.
The Border Trade Alliance asked Congress to reverse its decision before more damage is done to the economy and trade relations with the second-largest export market. Last week the American Association of Exporters and Importers called a quick resolution of the matter. Reducing the need to transfer cargo at the border from short-haul to long-haul trucks is expected to significantly increase the efficiency of trade.
The BTA represents businesses, local governments and individuals interested in developing cross-border trade and economic development.
The Washington Post in its lead editorial Monday criticized Obama for talking during the campaign about respecting other nations and then acting like his predecessor by showing contempt for international law to pursue U.S. interests without regarding others' needs. An international arbitration panel has determined that the United States is legally required to let in Mexican trucks.
U.S. officials are quick to blame other countries for not opening their markets and playing by the rules established in trade agreements, but acquiesced to protectionist pleas from the Teamsters union, the Post said.
The union and some public safety organizations claimed that Mexican trucks were not safe to allow on U.S. highways because Mexican regulations are not as tough as U.S. ones. But an independent panel commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that the Mexican carriers in the demonstration program were at least the equal of their domestic counterparts. After one year and 12,000 border crossings, no Mexican trucks in the program were involved in an accident and the driver out-of-service rate was 0.5 percent compared to 7.2 percent for U.S.-based carriers. Vehicle inspections determined Mexican trucks were out of service 8.2 percent of the time compared to 22.6 percent of the time for U.S. carriers.
'Other countries that aspire to free trade with us will be watching closely to see if the Obama administration can mend the damage that has already been done,' the Post said. ' Eric Kulisch
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