In a notice coincidentally – or not, perhaps – signed signed the day after the presidential election, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has declared that motor carriers domiciled in Mexico may lease their equipment to U.S. motor carriers regardless of the destination of the cargo as long as the carriers comply with the federal leasing rules (49 CFR 376). This means that the U.S. carrier must assume complete responsibility for the operation of the equipment for the duration of the lease just as is the case in a lease between a carrier and an owner-operator.
"This notice is being issued to prevent inconsistent enforcement of a law that is no longer applicable," said the notice signed November 9 by FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling and published in the November 22 Federal Register. The decision is based on a finding that international obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) chapter on cross-border trade in services have been met – a requirement Congress had imposed, initially in 1999, before Mexico-domiciled motor carriers could be allowed to leasing commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to U.S. carriers to transport property into the United States.
"Given FMCSA's acceptance of applications for long-haul operating authority from Mexico-domiciled motor carriers following the conclusion of the U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Long-Haul Trucking Pilot Program, the obligations are fulfilled and the restriction is no longer applicable," FMCSA said.