Border holdups show need for streamlined inspections - The Packer

Border holdups show need for streamlined inspections

04/24/2009 07:13:32 PM
Fred Wilkinson

Speaking to the crowd at the grape summit, Camou maintained the inspection facility would be online by late April.

Get the truck outta here

Of course, here on the U.S. side of the border we have our own trucking and trade issues to resolve.

In March, the Obama administration scuttled a pilot program in place for several years allowing Mexican trucks into the U.S. in areas not far from the border on a limited basis.

Under North American Free Trade Agreement provisions, the U.S. is obligated to allow Mexican trucks access to its highways.

Obama's gambit to shore up political support from unions predictably drew a swift response from Mexican officials, who slapped tariffs on U.S. grapes, almonds and stone fruit as well as a host of other ag and nonagricultural goods the U.S. sends to its southern neighbor.

Mexican trucks on U.S. roads have long been opposed the by Teamsters as well as independent haulers, such as those represented by the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association, Grain Valley, Mo.

After Obama banished Mexican trucks, the Missouri association issued a press release in support of the move and also suggested Mexican trucks pose a safety hazard to U.S. motorists.

However, the years the pilot program was in place suggest such fears are unfounded.

As to questions about the safety of commercial vehicles on U.S. roads, John Pandol, special projects director for Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Bros. (an importer of Sonoran grapes, among other commodities), suggested considering the case of passenger buses from Mexico, which regularly venture into the U.S., outside the zone mandated for the truck pilot program.

Mexican buses have been coming into the U.S. for more than a decade without major incident, Pandol said.

There's little reason to suspect the same wouldn't prove to be true for trucks.

Of course, if resolving U.S.-Mexico truck disagreements were easy, they never would have become an issue.

Free trade and open borders must be weighed against illegal immigration, drug-running and weapons smuggling that have brought violence and corruption to both sides of the border.

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