The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has given the green light to one of the seven Mexican trucking companies seeking long-haul operating rights within the United States under a controversial NAFTA pilot program. Grupo Behr de Baja California, a commercial trucking company based in Tijuana, was authorized to operate in the U.S. under a previous cross-border pilot program. The Mexican carrier could begin making hauls north of the border within weeks if the cross-border test program isn’t first shuttered by a lawsuit seeking to stop it.
The 3-year pilot program was originally launched in 2007 with 31 Mexican trucking firms participating by 2008, but Congress abruptly defunded it. In response, Mexican officials imposed stiff tariffs on 99 U.S. exports, making the products uncompetitive in the Mexican market and costing American companies about $2 billion a year. Mexico has promised to roll back the tariffs completely when the NAFTA program resumes, starting with an immediate 50-percent repeal.
Grupo Behr is a small general freight company with seven trucks and seven drivers, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. An audit of the carrier cleared five of the company’s trucks and three of its drivers to make long-distance hauls in the U.S. FMCSA records show that Grupo Behr hasn’t been involved in any crashes for at least two years.
Another Mexican carrier, Transportes Olympic of Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, is also close to gaining approval for the pilot program. Transportes Olympic specializes in hauling metal sheets, pipes, and coils. It has two trucks and two drivers and also participated in the original NAFTA pilot.
Although the FMCSA is nearly ready to launch the pilot program, an exact starting date has not been set. The FMCSA has opened its approval of Grupo Behr to public comment until September 22. It’s also uncertain how the pending lawsuits will affect the program’s progress.