Tom Frost lauds lax rules for Mexican trucks

Link to San Antonio Free Trade Alliance article here.

Can you say security risk to not inspect cargo until it reaches San Antonio? What else could be smuggled past the border into San Antonio’s inland port…drugs, weapons, people?

From March 2007 e-newsletter:

Free Trade Alliance Lauds Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Announcement
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Feburary 23rd that a cross-border trucking pilot program is set to begin. This news was announced a day after U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mary E. Peters, visited Monterrey, Mexico to officially announce that U.S. inspectors with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will conduct safety audits of Mexican domiciled carriers participating in cross-border trucking. Tom Frost, Senior Chairman of Frost Bank and Chairman Emeritus of Free Trade Alliance San Antonio stated, “This is a significant step in San Antonio’s development as an Inland Port and a multimodal center of international trade.”

The concept of a pilot program was first presented by the Alliance to the DOT in February 2005 as a means for beginning a yet to be implemented NAFTA provision. In 2006, the Alliance formed a bilateral committee with Consejo Empresarial Mexicano de Comercio Exterior, Inversión y Tecnología (COMCE) or the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology to secure a cross-border trucking pilot between the U.S. and Mexican governments. The bilateral committee is chaired by Mr. Tom Frost and Mr. Eugenio Clariond, Chairman of the Mexico-U.S. Business Committee of the Northeast COMCE Chapter.

The pilot program will aid in demonstrating how the various security initiatives function in a cross-border trucking climate as well as identifying and addressing any regulatory, statutory, or procedural issues that may impact cross-border trucking, among others objectives.

This one-year pilot will seek the participation of 100 amount Mexican transportation carriers. Such companies are selected based upon who first applied four years ago for permits granting operating authority to enter the U.S.

In an effort to assist and train Mexican carriers on the specific requirements, regulations and documents involved in the cross-border trucking process, the Free Trade Alliance will reinstate the IBDC Transportation Program which it first initiated in 2002. This program, a component of the International Business Development Center (IBDC) incubator program, was created for the purpose of ensuring that Mexican transportation companies would: 1) comply with the relevant U.S. regulations, 2) achieve a higher level of success in obtaining a permit and 3) decrease potential missteps that would result in a loss of time, money or resources. To date, two Mexican carriers have graduated from the IBDC Transportation Program and the Alliance looks forward to assisting many more in the short and long-term.

The cross-border trucking provision has been a key advocacy priority for the Alliance, as this issue is of great importance to the local and regional community. Significant benefits of the provisions for our community include: further augmenting the development of the Port of San Antonio and other San Antonio logistics and distribution facilities in addition to abating the logistical inconvenience and reducing the costs involved in transferring trailers from Mexican to U.S. carriers.

Due to the current system of transferring trailers from a U.S. carrier to a Mexican carrier at the border, it has been uneconomical for many shippers to use San Antonio as a hub for trade processing activities vis-à-vis Mexico. Now through the cross-border trucking pilot program, San Antonio can demonstrate that it is a logical choice for distribution operations and as an attractive alternative trade processing and distribution operations center with its foreign trade zone program, state-of-the-art facilities, customs clearance processing and other related incentive programs.

Dan Hearn, logistics manager of San Antonio-based Menlo Worldwide operations states that, “the cross-border trucking pilot can demonstrate how we can streamline the process by using fewer parties to facilitate the movement of freight, thus lowering the costs for manufacturers and bringing product to the market place in a more timely manner. Instead of using three trucking companies to bring the freight from Monterrey to San Antonio, we would only have to use one transportation provider.”

Both the Alliance and COMCE will continue to work together on this issue and provide any necessary assistance to those carriers and shippers participating in the program. The Alliance will monitor the federal enforcement components of the pilot to ensure that the federal officials are conducting the pilot in good faith.

The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio would like to acknowledge the efforts and hard work put forth by the DOT and Secretary of Communications and Transportation in Mexico for accepting and implementing the pilot program, the Calderon and Bush administration in pushing for this NAFTA provision passage and for COMCE’s collaboration and shared vision on the importance of this issue and its affect on our respective business communities.