Border News

Mexico pressing for open border
Mexico wants the border open for trucks. The commerce ministry of Mexico has officially requested the North American Free Trade Commission form an arbitration panel to review the matter of the long-delayed border opening.

Starting now, the Mexican government guesses it will take another six months to iron out the conflicts that continue to delay the opening. Under NAFTA, Mexican trucks were supposed to be allowed to cross the U.S. border in December of 1995. Access was denied, however, on the morning of the scheduled opening due to pressure from safety-conscious U.S. factions (including OOIDA). American government sources continue to report that progress is being made, but say the border will remain closed until Mexico can offer proof that it has similar regulatory and safety oversight rules as strict as the U.S. and Canada.

Mexican Commerce Secretary Herminio Blanco said Sept. 30 that his country would abandon the requested arbitration procedure if the U.S. agreed to remove the transport restrictions now.

An "ace" in the hole: easing border traffic
The Senate is considering whether to go along with a House bill, the Drug Free Borders Act, which would authorize $964 million in 1999 and $1 billion in 2000 for increased drug enforcement personnel at customs and border technology improvements.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee recognize competing duties of the Customs Service and are considering the Gramm Bill. The bill will speed up funding for an Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system to move truck traffic more smoothly across borders. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), wants gamma-ray technology installed at border crossings to facilitate the jamming that sometimes occurs. Sen. Gramm said, "As these border crossings become jammed, sometimes for seven, eight, even 20 miles you can see trucks lined up, it becomes impossible to get back across the border so it disrupts commerce." LL