Commentary: Mexico truck deal keeps U.S. roads safe

The Kansas City StarMarch 9, 2011 

The Obama administration has negotiated a deal that could ease one of the longest-running disputes between the United States and Mexico — that involving access for Mexican trucks under a free-trade treaty signed by both countries.

Mexican trucks — subject to U.S. safety rules — were supposed to be allowed access to the U.S. market going back to the 1990s. But one roadblock after another was thrown up by opponents, primarily organized labor.

In 2009, President Obama signed a bill wiping out a small pilot program allowing limited access in the border regions for Mexican trucks. In response, Mexico began applying punitive tariffs of up to $2.4 billion, which were authorized by an international arbitration panel.

The negotiated settlement, made public late last week, is expected to be signed in a couple of months. It would go overboard to answer the safety concerns of critics: Mexican trucks must meet safety requirements that exceed both those in the North American Free Trade Agreement and those that now apply to U.S. trucks.

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