DOT Tries To Resolve Trucking Dispute With Mexico

The Obama administration is talking to Congress about reopening U.S. highways to cross-border truck traffic from Mexico — beyond a narrow strip along the border. American unionized truckers object.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

President Obama's administration is also circulating a plan that could reopen U.S. highways to cross-border truck traffic from Mexico. The move could ease trade ties between the two countries. But unionized truck drivers here in the United States are not happy. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: The Transportation Department has told members of Congress it's preparing to re-launch a controversial pilot program that would allow a limited number of Mexican trucks to haul cargo in the U.S. beyond a narrow strip along the border.

Mexican trucks were supposed to have that kind of unfettered access years ago under the North American Free Trade Agreement. But unionized truckers and their allies have repeatedly put up roadblocks. The Teamsters insist Mexican trucks are a safety threat, although the few that have been allowed in show no unusual safety problems.

Two years ago, Congress slammed the brakes on a pilot trucking program started by the Bush administration. Mexico has retaliated with stiff tariffs on targeted U.S. exports, including sweet corn, chewing gum, and pork. The cross-border battle has put the Obama Administration in a tough spot, as it tries to double exports.

The renewed plan to allow truck traffic is another sign of the President's effort to be more business friendly, though Mr. Obama runs the risk of losing support from key backers in the Teamsters' union.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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