Will change the way some Mexican trucks operate within the US

On Feb. 23, Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced that US trucks will for the first time be allowed to make deliveries in Mexico under a year-long pilot program that expands cross border trucking operations with Mexico. Secretary Peters made the announcement during a visit to truck inspection facilities in El Paso, Texas.

US trucks will get to make deliveries into Mexico while a select group of Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries beyond the 20-25 mile commercial zones currently in place along the Southwest border.

Secretary Peters said the new demonstration program was designed to simplify a process that currently requires Mexican truckers to stop and wait for US trucks to arrive and transfer cargo. She said this process wastes money, drives up the cost of goods, and leaves trucks loaded with cargo idling inside US borders. The Secretary added that under current rules, US trucks are not allowed into Mexico because the United States refused to implement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement that would have permitted safe cross-border trucking.

‘The United States has never shied away from opportunities to compete, to open new markets and to trade with the world. Now that safety and security programs are in place, the time has come for us to move forward on this longstanding promise with Mexico,’ Secretary Peters said.

‘We are committed to retaining a high level of security and safety standards under this program,’ said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. ‘The tough security measures we already have in place will remain unchanged, resulting in a smart and secure approach to safeguarding the border, while allowing for American and Mexican carriers to deliver cargo outside of arbitrary commercial zones.’

‘Today’s announcement is another sign of the strength of the US-Mexico relationship and a further step towards making our economies globally competitive, promoting mutual economic growth and prosperity while continuing to protect the safety of our borders,’ said Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez.

‘Safety is the number one priority and strict US safety standards won’t change,’ Secretary Gutierrez continued. ‘We will continue to work closely with President Calderon and his administration on ways we can further enhance the commerce of our countries and the competitiveness of our hemisphere without sacrificing safety or security.’

Secretary Peters noted that the Department of Transportation has put in place a rigorous inspection program to ensure the safe operation of Mexican trucks crossing the border. Yesterday, Peters and Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis T’llez announced a program to have US inspectors conduct in-person safety audits to make sure that participating Mexican companies comply with US safety regulations. The regulations require all Mexican truck drivers to hold a valid commercial drivers license, carry proof they are medically fit, comply with all US hours-of-service rules and be able to understand questions and directions in English.

Secretary Peters said those Mexican truck companies that may be allowed to participate in the one-year program will all be required to have insurance with a US licensed firm and meet all US safety standards. Companies that meet these standards will be allowed to make international pick up and deliveries only and will not be able to move goods from one US city for delivery to another, haul hazardous materials or transport passengers.

The first Mexican trucks to be authorized under the program will begin traveling beyond US border areas once the initial in-person safety inspections are done and proof-of-insurance verified. Secretary Peters noted that with the announcement of the program, Mexico will begin to consider applications from US trucking firms for licensing rights to operate within Mexico. Approximately 100 US operators would be licensed by Mexico for cross-border operations