Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bersin says cross-border trucking will be secure

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2011 AT 2:47 P.M.
Border czar Alan Bersin expressed confidence on Wednesday March 30, in Mexico's ability to establish a secure-cargo shipping program similar to the one operated internationally by the U.S. He was speaking at a cargo security seminar for 1,200 representatives of global shipping companies at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego
Border czar Alan Bersin expressed confidence on Wednesday March 30, in Mexico's ability to establish a secure-cargo shipping program similar to the one operated internationally by the U.S. He was speaking at a cargo security seminar for 1,200 representatives of global shipping companies at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego
 — Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin expressed strong confidence Wednesday in Mexico’s ability to develop a secure-cargo shipping program, similar to the one operated by his own agency that enables billions of dollars in cargo to move efficiently through the country’s 326 designated seaports, airports and border entry points.
Bersin was in San Diego to mark the 10th anniversary of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, most commonly known by its acronym C-TPAT. Also in town are 1,200 representatives of companies involved in global shipping for a C-TPAT seminar -- one of three cargo-security seminars that the federal agency is sponsoring this year in various parts of the country.
C-TPAT was started after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York as a way to keep the global supply chain flowing and while securing the country from an outside attack. It is a complicated dance in which global shippers share cargo data and enact security strategies as they build a level of “trust” in Customs officials.
The more trust that they build, the more efficiently their cargo flows through the ports of entry.
Contrast this with the dysfunctional relationship between Mexico and the U.S. that has seen the U.S. ban Mexico’s long-haul trucks from highways and Mexico retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods.
Bersin gave a nod to the recent agreement between President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Felipe Calderon to resume long-haul trucking across the common border, as called for in the NAFTA trade agreement.
“The president agreed there would be a program whereby in a very certified way, in a very careful and deliberate way, Mexican long-haul trucks would be able to travel with their cargo across the border and on into the states.
“It’s a big breakthrough for NAFTA, for North American competitiveness, for support of the Mexican economy and the US economy,” said Bersin.
But not one without challenges.
“We understand what Obama and Calderon have done is no longer permit Mexican and American peoples or their officials to point fingers at one and other,” said Bersin. “The issues of drugs going north and guns and cash to the south are seen as part of one continuous vicious cycle of criminality affecting both countries.
“Obviously it is important that those trucks be safe and secure from the transportation standpoint,” said Bersin, “but also secure from the standpoint of smuggling.”
Mexican truckers have been eligible to join the C-TPAT program since 2008 “and a fair number of them have,” according to Bersin. He expects C-TPAT to now play an even greater role at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“C-TPAT is an important way to approach the problem,” said Bersin. “For that reason, we are cooperating with Mexican customs to help Mexico to establish its own version of C-TPAT. Mexico’s Alliance for Secure Business is adopting many of the security strategies and principles of C-TPAT, he said.
“Downstream, I expect that we will be able to have mutual recognition — that is that a company recognized by C-TPAT will be recognized by the Mexican program and visa versa,” said Bersin.
C-TPAT started with seven companies participating. Today, there are 10,000.
“We have confidence that Mexico’s program will develop and grow,” said Bersin. • (619) 718-5253
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Monday, March 21, 2011

New Trade Show Booth.

Just in time for the Transportation Intermediaries Association's  (TIA) 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Show April 6-9  in Orlando, FL, we picked up our new trade show booth.

The booth was made for us by Joe and all the great people at Skyline San Diego.
There are Skyline offices throughout the US, and they definitely are the go-to people for a quality booth and good prices, and their in-house design staff can assist you in getting your vision on the booth.

Below are some pictures we snapped today. Pointing out one of his loads in the picture is our very own Eric Miranda.

We hope to see you soon at one of the trade shows we attend each year.  Here is a link to the TIA convention

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Truck inspections

On a  trip to San Felipe, BC March 11, 2011 we got a good look at the challenges facing the Mexican trucking industry.  The below picture is the line of trucks waiting to get inspected by Mexican Police and Military west of Mexicali, BC at the base of La Rumorosa mountain passage.  This is not a border inspection - it is one of many roadblocks set up by Mexican authorities to check commercial vehicles for contraband such as weapons and drugs.  At this specific inspection point, it is not uncommon for Mexican truckers having a 5 hours + wait.

La Rumorosa is a spectacular drive. It drops over 3000 feet in 10 miles.

But its not all work around here at Bill Hay International.  Our final destination was the lovely fishing village of San Felipe Baja California, located on the Sea of Cortez

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mexico outlines details of cross-border trucking pact

Mexico outlines details of cross-border trucking pact

Mexico City (CNN) -- Mexican officials are revealing details of a recently announced agreement that ends a 16-year trucking dispute between Mexico and the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced the agreement during a visit by the Mexican leader to Washington last week.
The two leaders solved what had been a wrench in the gears of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 1994. Under the agreement, U.S. and Mexican tractor-trailers were to be allowed to transport goods back-and-forth across the border beginning in 1995. But safety and security concerns spurred the United States to bar Mexican trucks on U.S. roadways.
In response, Mexico retaliated with $2.5 billion in tariffs on a variety of U.S. goods.
A pilot program in 2007 to get Mexican trucks on U.S. roads was de-funded.
This time, Mexican officials said, in details that began to emerge over the weekend, the authorizations will be permanent.
Unlike the failed pilot program, under the new plan there will be no limit to the number of companies who can participate and the trucks they can register for cross-border transport, said Dionisio Perez-Jacome, Mexico's Communications and Transportation Minister.
There will be three phases to the program, he said.
The first will be the application and inspection of Mexican trucks and the accreditation of their operators, Perez-Jacome said. This phase concludes with a provisional authorization being granted to enter the United States.
The second phase starts with a three-month period of thorough inspections of the vehicles crossing the border, checks that will decrease starting the fourth month, he said. It concludes with a certification that the company is following all the rules.
The last phase involves the Mexican companies being notified of their permanent authorization, which can be granted after 18 months of successful operations, Perez-Jacome said. This authorization can only be revoked if a safety regulation is broken.
A binational commission will be created to monitor all the phases of the new program.
"This is a great step forward in our bilateral relations," Mexican Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said. "The solution to this conflict represents a substantial advance for regional competitiveness, and, without a doubt, will offer new business opportunities for Mexican truckers."
Currently, three trucks and three drivers are used to get goods across the border, Ferrari said. It comes out to about $150 per crossing. Multiplied by the 4.5 million annual truck crossings, the savings generated could exceed $675 million, he said.
The agreement is expected to be signed by both presidents by June, at which time Mexico will drop half of its retaliatory tariffs, Ferrari said. The second half will be removed when the first permit for Mexican truckers is issued.
However, Ferrari noted, Mexico reserves the right to re-introduce tariffs if any parts of the agreement are violated by the United States.
Some in Mexico expressed concern that the U.S. Congress may block the agreement. Ferrari said that his understanding was that Obama was asking for a consultation period that would include Congress, but that the legislative body's approval would not be required.
The flow of goods across the border exceeded $2.75 billion in 2010, which represents 70% of total trade between Mexico and the United States, Ferrari said.
"The agreement achieved will reduce the costs of transporting goods between both nations," he said.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011
Article on supposed deal reached on NAFTA trucking dispute.  The key text "...but its not a done deal".
This isn't the first breakthrough in the negotiations, and from past history don't expect anything different. 

U.S., Mexico Reach Deal to End Trucking Dispute

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon unveiled a deal resolving a longstanding dispute over cross-border trucking that has subjected the U.S. to billions of dollars in punitive tariffs.
The plan, announced at a news conference by the two presidents, will allow for half of those tariffs to be lifted immediately. It will establish a reciprocal, phased-in pilot program that allows Mexican trucks to operate inside the U.S. provided they comply with a series of safety, driver-skills and language tests monitored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The U.S. had effectively banned Mexican trucks from crossing the U.S. border, after the Teamsters union and others said the trucks weren't safe.
The ban was ruled a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and subjected the U.S. to punitive tariffs by Mexico on a range of goods, from foods to Christmas trees.
The deal to end the dispute "is built on the highest safety standards that will authorize both Mexican and U.S. long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under Nafta," a senior administration official said.
Mexico would lift 50% of the tariffs when the final agreement for a new program is signed by both nations. The remaining 50% would be lifted when the first Mexican carrier receives authorization under the new program. The U.S. Trade Representative's office would ensure the tariffs are lifted as agreed.
Relations between Mexico and the U.S. have been rocky amid recent violence in Mexico's war on drugs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was killed and another agent wounded by gunmen a few weeks ago. It marks the first time a U.S. law-enforcement official was killed in the line of duty in Mexico in several decades.
Mr. Calderon has said the U.S. needs to do more to help Mexico win its war on drugs. Among the things he has said he wants the U.S. to do is tighten gun laws and work to lower drug use in America.
President Barack Obama speaks while standing with Mexican President Felipe Calderon during a joint news conference Thursday.
Ultimately the agreement to end the dispute would suspend $2.4 billion in annual punitive tariffs on the U.S. It was billed by the White House as a job creator for both nations.
The Transportation Department hopes to have a proposed agreement available for congressional briefings and public notice and comment by late March or early April. After responding to public comments, the U.S. would finalize the agreement with Mexico.
"This is a very positive development, but it is not a done deal," an administration official said, adding some details are still being negotiated.
The dispute has simmered for more than 20 years, fanned by labor unions and their allies in Congress who secured repeated bans on Mexican trucks in the U.S. The disagreement has forced goods headed from Mexico into the U.S. to be re-loaded into U.S. trucks at the border.
Under the agreement, trucks will be required to have electronic on-board recorders to track compliance with U.S. hours-of-service laws.
Mexican trucks would further be required to comply with all U.S. motor-safety standards. Drivers would have to undergo testing for knowledge of English and U.S. safety laws and would be screened for illegal drug use.