US opens roads to Mexican trucking firms

Transportation Department officials said Friday that Mexican trucking companies will soon be able to apply to make long-haul trips into the United States, ending a protracted dispute. 

The policy change is expected to open up more trade between the two border countries and lead to the permanent termination of more than $2 billion in annual retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. officials cleared the way for Mexican trucks to apply after a three-year pilot program determined that Mexican carriers could meet the safety levels at least as high as the U.S. and Canadian trucking firms.

"Opening the door to a safe cross-border trucking system with Mexico is a major step forward in strengthening our relationship with the nation’s third largest trading partner, and in meeting our obligations under NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement],” said Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxLyft confidentially files for IPO Hillicon Valley: Exclusive: Audit cleared Google's privacy practices despite security flaw | US weapon systems vulnerable to cyber attacks | Russian troll farm victim of arson attack | US telecom company finds 'manipulated' hardware Lyft taps former Obama administration official to lead its policy team MORE.

The department also submitted a report to Congress on Friday with findings from the pilot program.

Fifteen trucking companies from Mexico enrolled in the pilot program, which concluded in October.

The report said trucks crossed the U.S. border more than 28,000 times, traveling more than 1.5 million miles here and undergoing more than 5,500 safety inspections.

“We have been, and will continue to work with Mexico to ensure that the threat of retaliatory duties will now be brought to a swift conclusion as well," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

"Formally concluding this process will help us continue our work to expand trade and investment opportunities between our countries."

Mexico put the tariffs in place — mostly on U.S. agricultural products like tomatoes and potatoes — after a 2009 appropriations bill halted a project to open U.S. roads tos Mexican truckers.

Mexico then suspended the tariffs after the new pilot program began in 2011, agreeing to permanently he tariffs when U.S.-Mexican trucking dispute was solved.

Companies from Mexico that apply for long-haul operating authority will be required to pass a rigorous safety test to gain approval, hold either U.S. or Mexican commercial licenses and meet the agency’s English language proficiency requirements.

Once approved, their vehicles will be required to undergo an inspection every 90 days for at least four years.