Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hey Mexico: What's With The Trucks?

I know, renegotiating NAFTA is the talk of the moment. It was a campaign promise and apparently came up during President Obama's first foreign trip, which was to Ottawa. One issue that has never been satisfactorily worked out, at least from a legal perspective, is the trucking dispute. The agreement clearly lets Mexican domiciled trucks have full access to the U.S. market (and, therefore, to Canada). But, this has never been implemented. There have been pilot programs in fits and starts, but it has never become the law.

And, it still won't. H.R. 1105, the recently introduced omnibus appropriations bill effectively tries to prevent it again by prohibiting the use of funds in furtherance of the program. It's hard to find in the bill. Look at page 983, in section 136.

Here's my question: Does anyone in Mexico care about this? I understand that people on the U.S. side might have concerns as varied as job loss, safety, and environmental protection relating to more trucks on the road. Based on what I have read, I suspect many of these concerns are rationalizations aimed at protecting jobs, which is not an insubstantial concern. But in Mexico is there a constituency to push this? My guess is that there is not, otherwise they would be trying to enforce the dispute decision they already won (nod to Todd Weiler for the document). And yet, they thought enough about it at the time to want it in the agreement. So, there was some interest at some point.

Much like every episode of MonsterQuest, I don't have a conclusion here. Just some theories and a limited amount of time and money to spend contemplating them. I would like a cool computer generated graphic of a Mexican truck driver to spice up this post, though. Maybe Loren Coleman (of whom I am a big fan) can help me on that one. In the mean time, the rarely sighted Truckerisis Dieselamo Mexicanis remains a cryptid north of the Rio Grande.

Side note: I propose to start using "MonsterQuest" as a synonym for "inconclusive," "unfinished," or "impossible." For example, "Mrs. Jones, the results of your pregnancy test were a MonsterQuest." Or, "Don't bother looking for that golf ball, its a MonsterQuest." I hope they take that up on The Skeptics Guide (of which I am also a big fan, go figure).

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