The largest trucking association in Mexico is suing the United States government for $30 billion over allegations that denying Mexican truckers access to the US violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The association, the National Chamber of Motor Cargo Carriers (CANACAR), has assembled over 30,000 signatures from Mexican truckers who are backing the action.
NAFTA took effect in 1994, and requires that Mexican trucks be given access to the United States, yet in the past 20 years, the only steps taken towards fulfilling this goal have been a failed and extremely brief program in 2009, and the current cross-border pilot program – an initiative that CANACAR director Jose Refugio Muñoz Lopez says “in no way has… served as a mechanism for U.S. compliance with its requirements under NAFTA.”
CANACAR says that the lawsuit is being filed on behalf of over 30,000 Mexican truckers who have been wrongly denied access to the US border.
The timing and enormous price tag of the lawsuit were most likely designed to force the issue to become a topic of conversation at the trade talks between President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto which began on February 19th. According to the White House, the two men will discuss “a range of issues important to the daily lives of all of North America’s people, including economic competitiveness, entrepreneurship, trade and investment, and citizen security.”
Muñoz Lopez also explained that the US government has indicated that it would like to negotiate a settlement of the matter. In response to which he will be proposing a solution that will see the U.S. government recognizing its breach of NAFTA, opening U.S. roads to Mexican trucks, and compensating Mexican trucking companies for denying them access in the past.