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Mexico and the United States: Border Controls on Trucks

     Congressman Jim Kolbe (R, Arizona) supports the charge that the Clinton administration is violating NAFTA:
     "As one intimately involved in the drafting and passage of the NAFTA agreement, I think I am in some position to comment. The correct answer is that the NAFTA agreement contemplated that at the end of five years, all restrictions on truck traffic from either side of the border would end and that free movement of goods would be a reality. Of course, in either country safety standards could be imposed, provided they were applied using "national treatment"--that is, that they applied equally to domestic as well as foreign trucks entering the other country.
     The fact is that our refusal to comply with this provision of NAFTA means we are ignoring our obligations under the NAFTA agreement. There is no provision and no precedent for ignoring these obligations on a unilateral basis. Doing so undermines our own commitment to the rule of law and gives us little room to complain about Mexico or Canada when they fail to comply with provisions of the agreement (Canada on wheat, Mexico on small packages). The safety argument is entirely specious. The states and the US DOT stand ready to inspect trucks as they enter the United States and turn back those who lack insurance, or whose driver's are not licensed in accordance with US law or whose trucks may be deemed unsafe. But to simply say we will not abide by the agreement is clearly a violation of our obligations.
     That we have taken such a breathtaking stand in clear violation of the agreement is very simply because of the influence of labor unions in the trucking industry. The Teamsters do not want these trucks in the United States, and the Clinton administration is unwilling to stand up to the union. It is doubly true now that we are in an election year with the commitments made by Gore to the Teamsters. And yet, the administration understood this perfectly when they willingly moved forward with ratification of the agreement in 1993. I find the refusal of the United States to abide by the rule of law to be deeply troubling.

Ronald Hilton - 3/24/00