Tag: cross-border trucking

Cross-Border Trucking, the Opportunities, the Lawsuits

The 30-day comment period ended Friday for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed rules to put into effect the long-delayed cross-border Mexican trucking program required under the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Docket: FMCSA-2011-0097).

The Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise offered a thorough report on the issue, albeit with a headline one can argue over, “Cross-border trucking and tariffs — hard to balance.” To exporters of agricultural and manufactured goods, it doesn’t seem that hard at all. The tariffs tilted the scales heavily in a bad direction, and enacting the cross-border trucking program restores the balance.

Much of the effect in California has been on agricultural products, including dates, table grapes, lettuce and other crops grown in eastern Riverside County. Dave Kranz, a spokesman for the California Farm Bureau, said the tariff on table grapes, as high as 45 percent initially, cost growers 70 percent of their Mexican market.

Doug Goudie, director of international trade policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, said adding on that kind of tariff drives away customers and damages American producers. Goudie said he knows of one Mexican firm that is buying potato products grown in Canada, which he said was absurd because the products had to move through the U.S. to get to the destination.

“If you have to add 25 cents to every dollar for everything you’re trying to sell, pretty soon a Chinese or a Canadian product looks a lot better,” Goudie said.

Once the program is place, there will be more economic activity on both sides of the border. Increased opportunity, investment and wealth means trial lawyers will follow with bogus, hyped, shakedown lawsuits. (Where have we seen that before?) The American Association for Justice, the trial lawyer lobby, is setting the stage for litigation with its comments to the FMCSA, described in a news release, “Mexican-Based Trucks Should Carry Adequate Insurance: NAFTA Trucking Provisions Lack Protections for Motorists Injured in Accidents.

The important thing for the U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers is to get their assertion on record that the insurance requirements are inadequate. Personal injury attorneys can then point to their regulatory submission to broaden the targets of their litigation from Mexican operators/insurers to more deep-pocket U.S. companies.

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Put U.S.-Mexican Cross-Border Trucking Program in Place

The San Antonio Express editorializes, “Swift action needed on NAFTA trucking deal,” emphasizing the economic costs of delays, that is, Mexico’s continued imposition of tariffs on U.S. manufactured goods and agricultural exports.

During its brief existence, the test program put to rest environmental and safety concerns about authorized Mexican trucks. Mexican truckers in the program actually had a better safety record than their American counterparts.

Mexico has agreed to drop half the tariffs when a test program is finalized. The remaining tariffs would be eliminated when trucks begin to roll.

Removing the tariffs will benefit U.S. exporters. Implementing the trucking provision will benefit U.S. consumers and holds the promise of making San Antonio a transportation hub for cross-border trade.

End this self destructive trade war. After 16 years, it’s time for the United States to live up to its NAFTA commitment.

Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, recently issued a statement lauding the agreement. (continue reading…)

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Solving U.S.-Mexico Trucking Dispute Heralds Export Opportunities

Today’s Federal Register contains the Department of Transportation’s proposal for re-opening cross-border trucking with Mexico (Pilot Program on NAFTA Long-Haul Trucking Provisions). Once this plan is finalized, the retaliatory tariffs on $2.5 billion worth of U.S. manufactured goods and agricultural products will be cut in half. Those tariffs will be suspended completely once the first Mexican carrier is certified under the agreement.

This is a very welcome development and one that is overdue. For two years American manufacturers of a wide range of products have been paying 15-25 percent more than our competitors in Mexico, losing market share to manufacturers in China, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and other countries. These tariffs were put in place because the United States would not uphold its commitments made under North American Free Trade Agreement. The agreement published today will rectify this.

The National Association of Manufacturers has led efforts to repeal the ban on cross-border trucking for more than two years. The loss of exports to our second largest trading partner as a result of the tariff retaliation by Mexico forced manufacturers in America to cut production and lay off workers. Some may never recover their market share losses in Mexico.

This trade dispute did not need to happen. We are very pleased to see the end in sight as represented by today’s Federal Register notice. We urge the Obama Administration to sign the agreement after the 30-day comment period and move expeditiously to certify the Mexican carriers, and end the tariff retaliation.

Doug Goudie is director, international trade policy, for the NAM.

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Belated U.S.-Mexico Truck Deal Could Lift Tariffs, Boost Exports

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a tentative agreements Thursday under which the United States would finally implement the cross-border trucking program required by U.S. signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The announcement is excellent news for U.S. farmers and manufacturerers whose products have suffered from retaliatory tarifs from Mexico.

As the National Association of Manufacturers’ Aric Newhouse said in a statement: “The United States is a global leader in ensuring enforcement of trade laws, and we need to lead by example – by coming into compliance with our NAFTA obligations on Mexican trucks. The NAM has led the effort in urging the Administration to reach an agreement to end these costly tariffs.”

Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News, “Deal would lift U.S. roadblock on Mexican trucks,” quotes two Texas business leaders talking about the positive, practical implications of the agreement.

“More than 15 years ago NAFTA was signed declaring free trade and removing obstructions to the flow of goods between Mexico and the United States,” Jeff Moseley, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, said in a statement. “With the compromise announced today, the full potential of NAFTA can come to fruition and Houston can hopefully grow its annual trade with Mexico currently at $16.2 billion.” …”We are pleased,” said Free Trade Alliance San Antonio president and CEO Kyle Burns. “It is unfortunate that it took billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs to force the U.S. government into living up to its international obligations.

“We are hopeful that this latest program will lead to the successful conclusion of this issue, which should have been fully implemented in 2000. Mexico is showing good faith in our efforts. It is now up to the United States to follow through on our latest commitments and stop hiding behind safety concerns that are unfounded, as the initial pilot program proved.”

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Mexico’s Calderon Comes to Town, as Trucks Still Stalled

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in town this week for a brief visit. Mexico is building toward its Presidential elections in July 2012, and the U.S.-Mexico relationship is always an issue in the election there as well as here. We don’t expect the lingering inability of the Obama Administration to resolve the NAFTA cross-border trucking dispute to be top of President Calderon’s list, but it will be up for discussion.

To recap, briefly: In the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States signed on to allow cross-border trucking. As long as they meet U.S. safety and driver standards, Mexican and Canadian trucks under NAFTA should be able to cross the U.S. border, drop cargo and return home with cargo. They can’t engage in domestic deliveries. U.S. trucks are supposed to have the same rights. However, while this is in place between U.S. and Canada, implementation has been blocked for years between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexico won a NAFTA dispute settlement years ago, but declined to impose the retaliatory tariffs allowed by that process.

Until two years ago, that is, when Congress ended a pilot program for cross-border trucking and President Obama signed off on it. As a result of this, Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars worth of U.S. manufactured and agricultural exports. It has been nearly two years since this happened, and the Obama Administration has only very recently (January 2011) issued a “Concept Document” that lays out a foundation for discussions on re-establishing cross-border trucking. Little more has happened since that document was released, however, other than some “technical discussions.”

The Mexican government has indicated it is discussing the issue in good faith and that their U.S. counterparts are working hard. This is good news. However, the tariffs remain in place, harming American manufacturers who cannot ship their products to one of their largest markets without a massive markup that prices them out of the market. Many of these exporters are small & medium manufacturers – more than 90 percent of U.S. exporters to Mexico are SMMs. And waiting in the wings is a rotation of products on the retaliation list. We haven’t seen that list, but last time it was rotated, it put the bulls-eye on some major U.S. agricultural products, including pork and apples. Our bet is the next time it rotates, it’s going to focus squarely on manufactured goods instead. There’s not a lot of time left before we see this happen. We urge Secretary LaHood and his interagency team to buckle down and finish up their discussions. Tens of thousands of American jobs are at stake.

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Cross-Border Trucking Plan Boosts Manufacturing Exports to Mexico

We can’t say the Mexican trucking dispute is over, but we can now say that, at last, the end appears to be in sight. Almost two years after Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of American manufactured goods exports, the Obama Administration has released a long-awaited “Concept Document” that provides a foundation that, if it can be successfully turned into a mutually acceptable proposal, will lead to compliance with our NAFTA commitments and the removal of Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. exports.

While release of the interagency document is an excellent development and very good news, we are not out of the woods just yet. It will take substantial effort on the part of the Obama Administration and Congress to work through the concepts in this proposal and create a final agreement acceptable to all parties. Public comments will be solicited. And, of course, the Mexican government will need to be an integral part of any agreement. A solution will need to ensure that Mexican and American cross-border trucking takes place in a manner similar to the existing cross-border trucking that has existed between the United States and Canada. The good news is that a successful solution will speed commerce and increase productivity and efficiency in supply chains.

But only after a final agreement is reached and we are compliant with our NAFTA commitments will the tariffs be removed. And Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs have had an significant impact on a wide variety of industrial sectors across the entire country. For two years, manufacturers around the United States have faced these retaliatory tariffs on their exports to Mexico. As a result, our competitors from Canada, Latin America, China and elsewhere have had an opportunity to increase their market share in Mexico at our expense. We need to move swiftly toward a solution so the tariffs can be eliminated.

Still, we appreciate the efforts put forth by the Administration in its interagency process to develop and release this concept document. The proposal released today will form the basis on which discussions between the United States and Mexico (with input from Congress and a public comment period) will take place. We strongly encourage all parties involved to buckle up, buckle down and get moving. Every day that passes means unnecessary barriers to American exports remain in place.

Department of Transportation release, “U.S. Cross-Border Trucking Effort Emphasizes Safety and Efficiency

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Cross-Border Trucking Dispute Remains Obstacle to U.S. Exports

Congress is awash in discussion of pork, i.e., appropriations and earmarks. We wish our elected officials would pay a little more attention to some REAL pork. From the National Pork Producers Council, “Mexican Trucking Dispute Hurting U.S. Pork“:

U.S. pork exports to Mexico have fallen by a whopping 20 percent since the Mexican government added pork to the list of U.S. products against which it is retaliating for the failure of the United States to live up to a trade obligation.

In August, Mexico put a 5 percent tariff on most U.S. pork imports, as well as tariffs on other U.S. products, in reprisal for the United States not complying with a provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that allows Mexican trucks to haul goods into America. The provision was supposed to become effective in December 1995.

The National Pork Producers Council has been urging the Obama administration to resolve as quickly as possible the trucking dispute, which first erupted in March 2009 when Mexico placed higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion of U.S. goods after the U.S. Congress failed to renew a pilot program that let a limited number of Mexican trucking companies to haul freight beyond a 25-mile U.S. commercial zone.

Of course, it’s not only pork products, but a long list of U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods that have suffered from the retaliatory tariffs. Here’s the list. As the NAM’s Doug Goudie blogged back in August, the Mexican government plans to “carousel” or rotate the products on the tariff list.

And now the carousel is getting set to turn again. From Reuters, Nov. 11, “Mexico says “clock ticking” on U.S. truck row“:

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Mexico will slap retaliatory tariffs on a new set of U.S. goods unless Washington moves to resolve a decade-old trucking dispute and the “clock is ticking” for action, Mexico’s economy minister told Reuters…. (continue reading…)

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The Impact of Mexican Tariffs on U.S. Manufacturing, Agriculture

Following up Monday’s announcement that the Mexican government would be “carousel-ing” some of the products targeted for retaliation under the cross-border trucking case, the official revised list was published this morning – and the new tariffs will take effect later this week.

The total value of the exports targeted by these tariffs is more than $2 billion in 2009 – which, you will note, was one of the worst years for American exports in a long time, given the impact of the recession. Based on 2008 figures, the value would be more than $2.5 billion.

In this spreadsheet we have highlighted the new products, the associated dollar value of Mexico’s imports from the U.S. for 2009, and listed the tariff percentage.

The biggest impact comes in new agricultural and processed food products. Manufacturing in America embraces many different sectors of production, and one of the largest and most important is the food processing industry. Here, we have seen the Mexican government impose tariffs of 10-20 percent on products like chocolate, ketchup, chewing gum and cheese — all products of the manufacturing sector, made in American factories by American workers.

At the same time, we see new tariffs imposed on other manufactured goods, including industrial polishes, adhesives, trench diggers, rubber gloves, floor coverings, stainless steel containers, and gas masks.

While the NAM is pleased to see a number of industrial products removed from the revised list – including carpets, telephones, metal furniture, and various paper products – the list of manufactured goods facing tariffs as a result of the Obama Administration’s lack of progress on resolving the cross-border trucking dispute remains long. Mexican school children will be paying more for their education this fall, given that printed exercise books, paints, ballpoint pens and pencils are on the list, facing 15 percent duties. Also still on the list are key home products like refrigerators, coffeemakers and dishwashers; consumer goods like toothpaste, deodorants, aftershave, and suntan lotion (and toilet paper); home furnishing goods including curtain rods and desks, and industrial goods including gas filtering machines.

All in all, it’s a cornucopia of American-made products facing punitive tariffs in Mexico this week. Not just manufacturing but farmers will feel the pain as well – the significant addition of pork, apples, oranges, sweet corn and grapefruits total well over $700 million in U.S. exports. But manufactured goods are hit, and hit hard. And hit just as hard are the American factory workers who make these products – most of which have a significant export market in Mexico, our second largest trading partner.

It’s past time to fix this problem and get our goods moving back over the border that we made duty-free in 1994 with NAFTA.

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U.S. Manufacturing Affected by Mexico’s Retaliatory Tariffs

From Bloomberg, “Mexico Puts Tariffs on Some U.S. Pork Cuts in Truck Program Retaliation“:

Mexico will impose import tariffs on some U.S. pork cuts, ketchup, cheeses, sweetcorn and some fruits because of the U.S. government’s failure to restore a program allowing Mexican trucks to operate north of the border, the nation’s official gazette said.

The list includes a tariff of 5 percent on some cuts of pork and as much as 25 percent on fresh white cheese, according to the notice. Onions, apples, pears, oranges, cherries, soy sauce, mineral water and sunglasses are also on the list.

Mexico’s official gazette lists all the products in Spanish. Media reports focus on the agricultural and retail products because consumers/readers can easily grasp the impact. The economic on manufactured goods could be as great or greater, however. Here’s Google’s translation of part of the list, including the percentage tariffs applied. Most of it reflects the original list of products announced in March 2009.

 We note the addition of heavy machinery, such as trenchers (8429.59.01), hit with a 15 percent tariff.  That’s a big ticket item which other countries such as Canada are more than eager to supply.

 

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In Seattle, a Topic Not Addressed: Cross-Border Trucking

Surprisingly, this week’s hot issue of retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico against U.S. farmers and manufacturers appears not to have been mentioned during the President’s trip to Seattle on Tuesday. At least the issue does not appear in any of the public comments.

Washington State agricultural producers have lost millions of dollars worth of sales because of Mexico’s tariffs against U.S. products imposed in retaliation for U.S. refusal to establish the cross-border trucking program required by NAFTA. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), for whom President Obama raised campaign funds on Tuesday, is leading the Congressional call for resolving the dispute.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the former Governor of Washington, was also on hand.

But nothing in any of the public comments we see.

Well, maybe the issue arose in private conversations.

Earlier Shopfloor.org posts.

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