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President Bush's decision to fully open the United States border to Mexican trucks is a long-awaited move that trucking experts on both sides of the border say will enhance productivity -- eventually.
But not right now. Most Mexican carriers have no intention of operating in this country because of their lack of equipment and the complexity of operating in the United States.
Mexican carriers, accustomed to operating with no limitations on hours of service, say they find the array of trucking regulations in this country complex and baffling and may not be worth the trouble.
Only 130 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers have applied to operate beyond the border commercial zones in the United States. Another 854 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers have applied to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for provisional certificates of registration to operate in the border commercial zones. Of these 854 applicants, the FMCSA has issued provisional certificates to 459.
Last year there were about 4.3 million crossings into the United States border commercial zones from Mexico. According to an estimate based on figures from the late 1990s, these crossings are made by about 63,000 Mexican trucks.
But one expert predicts that only 10 of the estimated 4,500 Mexican carriers have the financial strength and wherewithal to make a sizable dent in the American freight market as a result of NAFTA. The rest will look at the complexity of competing in the U.S. market and decide that it's best to stay south of the border.
"This is a part of a global shift," said Gary D. Nichols, director of business …