This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
Buried in last year's overdue federal spending bill was a provision that could start an altogether unnecessary trade war with Mexico – with big effects on California.
Fifteen years ago, the United States pledged in the North American Free Trade Agreement to allow the free flow of commerce with Canada and Mexico.
A big hangup has continued to be long-haul trucking between the United States and Mexico. Before NAFTA, Mexican trucks could cross the border, but the cargo had to be offloaded and sit around until a U.S. driver and truck could pick it up – a cumbersome, time-consuming process that cost a lot of money. NAFTA was supposed to change that.
But the Teamsters union complained that Mexican trucks didn't meet U.S. safety standards. So cross-border trucking that was supposed to begin with California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in 1995 was delayed until stringent safety and security programs could be established.
Those safety and security measures are now in place – and a successful 18-month pilot program with 100 Mexican carriers and 1,000 trucks has shown that they work. Trucks and drivers from Mexico must meet U.S. safety requirements. They pay the same fuel taxes and registration fees as U.S. truckers. They must be insured by a U.S.-licensed insurance company. The trucks have been manufactured to meet both U.S. and Mexican emissions standards.
The drivers must have a valid commercial driver's license, understand and respond in English, and undergo drug and alcohol testing.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.