GLOBAL ECONOMY

US to permit Mexican trucks to apply for authorization to make long-haul cross-border runs

OTAY MESA, CA-MARCH 24:  Trucks coming from Mexico prepare to enter the highway after crossing the border March 24, 2009 in Otay Mesa, California.  Mexico last week slapped higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion worth of goods entering the country from the U.S. in response to a move by Congress  to end a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S.  (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

OTAY MESA, CA-MARCH 24: Trucks coming from Mexico prepare to enter the highway after crossing the border March 24, 2009 in Otay Mesa, California. Mexico last week slapped higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion worth of goods entering the country from the U.S. in response to a move by Congress to end a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it will soon allow Mexican trucking firms to apply for authorization to make long-haul cross-border runs, potentially ending a longstanding dispute.

It says it expects the move to permanently end Mexico's on-again, off-again retaliatory tariffs on $2 billion in U.S. imports.

The department said Friday that data from a three-year pilot program that ended in October "showed that companies from Mexico had violation, driver, and vehicle out-of-service rates that met the level of safety as American and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers."

The department did not say when applications would start.

The opening is a long-delayed provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. It has been stalled for years by concerns it could put highway safety and American jobs at risk.

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