September 23, 1998
Mexico appeals to NAFTA
Nation seeks arbitration in dispute over access to U.S. by Mexican truckers


                 MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Trade Ministry said late on Tuesday it had requested the
                 creation of a North American Free Trade Agreement panel to intervene in a long-running
                 fight to open the U.S. border to Mexican truckers.
                     Mexican trucks are prohibited from passing beyond U.S. border towns because of what
                 Mexican officials say is foot-dragging from the U.S. side in implementing a programmed border
                 opening established in NAFTA.
                    "The ministry said that as of Dec. 18, 1995, the United States should have authorized Mexican
                 vehicles access to its territory," the ministry said in a statement.
                    It added that Mexicans should have been allowed to invest in cross-border transportation
                 projects since Jan. 1, 1997.
                    "Despite multiple meetings between officials from both countries, the United States has still not
                 eliminated the restrictions it unilaterally adopted," the ministry said.
                    The request for a new arbitration panel is the ministry's latest and final step after three previous
                 attempts through NAFTA to open the border, it said.
                    NAFTA established three options to resolve disputes, first through consultations, then a
                 NAFTA commission and finally an independent arbitration panel, which gives a final decision.

                    Copyright 1998 Reuters.