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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 5, 2001

Fact Sheet on Trucking

"I urge Congress to deal fairly with Mexico and to not treat the Mexican truck industry in an unfair fashion. I believe strongly we can have safety measures in place that will make sure our highways are safe. But we should not single out Mexico. Mexico is our close friend and ally and we must treat it with respect and uphold NAFTA and the spirit of NAFTA."

President George W. Bush
July 25, 2001

     Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States agreed to permit cross-border passenger and cargo services beginning in 1995 in border states. The U.S. government delayed the border opening in 1995 citing safety concerns. A NAFTA dispute settlement panel ruled February 6 that the blanket exclusion of Mexican trucks from the United States violated our NAFTA commitments. Given that ruling, Mexico now has the right to retaliate against U.S. exports up to the same dollar value of losses as those caused by the U.S. action. Mexico estimates those losses may be as high may be as high as $1 to $2 billion a year.

     The Department of Transportation published draft rules in May which outline proposed documentation, inspection and safety compliance requirements for Mexican trucks seeking to enter the United States, with the goal of allowing access as of January 1, 2002.  The House and Senate have taken different steps to block the opening of the border.  The Department of Transportation's $88 million budget request to double the number of safety inspectors and improve inspection facilities was blocked June 26, when the House inserted language to prevent the processing of applications from Mexican trucking firms.  The Senate version, approved August 1, would subject Mexican trucks to a wide range of requirements that could delay a border opening for two or more years.

     The Administration has pledged to work with Congress to ensure that all trucks operating in the U.S. meet safety standards while we fulfill our international obligations. The President has vowed to veto any legislation that prevents the U.S. from meeting its NAFTA obligations.  The House and Senate versions of the legislation will go to conference committee when Congress reconvenes.

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