NAFTA Cross-Border Trucking: Mexico Retaliates After Congress Stops Mexican Trucks at the Border

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entitles Mexican tractor-trailers to enter the U.S. to deliver cargo from Mexico.  In spite of NAFTA, the U.S. has only allowed Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. during a controversial demonstration project that granted U.S. operating licenses to a select number of Mexican trucks during the Bush administration.  The dispute over NAFTA’s cross-border trucking provisions climaxed on March 16, 2009, when Mexico imposed $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports in response to U.S. noncompliance.

This Note chronicles the U.S.–Mexico cross-border trucking dispute and argues that the U.S. should re-start a cross-border trucking demonstration project in exchange for Mexico ceasing its retaliatory tariffs.  A demonstration project would inform a U.S. policy that fully complies with NAFTA regarding cross-border trucking’s challenges and safety issues.  In addition, this Note addresses the risks associated with allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. and offers the U.S. some practical suggestions for addressing these risks while complying with NAFTA.

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