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Will Mexican trucks be allowed to cross the U.S. border as agreed upon in NAFTA?

Question submitted by Allana, from LaGuardia Community College, June 9, 2013

Answered by: Jeanne Hull

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The purpose of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is to remove most barriers to free trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, many trade barriers—including tarrifs on agricultural products, vehicles, crude oil and machinery—have been gradually reduced or removed between these three participating countries. Among the NAFTA provisions was a requirement for the United States to allow Mexican trucking companies to transit imports over the U.S. border without first transferring them to U.S. domestic carriers.

Although NAFTA provisions were supposed to be fully implemented by January 1, 2008, concerns about security and safety coupled with opposition from U.S. Teamster unions initially prevented the U.S. from enacting trucking provisions within NAFTA. After the U.S. cancelled a pilot program designed to fulfill its NAFTA trucking obligations in 2009, the Mexican government retaliated by raising tariffs on select U.S. exports. These reprisals encouraged the U.S. to reevaluate its position on Mexican trucking companies. The United States and Mexico signed an agreement on July 6, 2011 to resolve these issues, and the first Mexican trucking companies began crossing into the United States in October 2011.

Continued concerns about increased border security and dwindling resources at all U.S. ports of entry are likely to contribute to more lengthy administrative processes at border crossing sites, but there are no longer any specific regulations or legislation that inhibit or prohibit the transit of Mexican trucks bearing legal imports across the U.S. border. Therefore, trucks from Mexico bearing legal imports and workers will continue to be authorized entry into the United States.