U.S. cabotage ruling would allow incidental moves of foreign trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 11) — The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury has approved a long-awaited final rule on so-called incidental moves of foreign-based trucking equipment, clearing another hurdle for allowing certain movements of domestic freight by Canadian equipment operating within U.S. borders.

The new provisions would be effective 30 days after the final rule is published in the U.S. Federal Register. The notice was expected to be published tomorrow.

Once enforced, the rule will permit a foreign vehicle to make a single domestic move, as long as the vehicle is travelling in the direction of the border or toward a point of origin for an export load. Such moves would be considered “incidental” to the equipment returning to its home country.

However, trucking companies still would have to abide by immigration laws which prevent a driver from carrying freight between two points in a foreign country.

During the 30-day period leading up to implementation there is expected opposition from organized labor, notably the Teamsters, which has argued that liberalized use of equipment would encourage foreign drivers to break immigration laws in order to make point-to-point moves.

The announcement follows a 1997 decision by the U.S. Customs Service to gauge whether a foreign-based vehicle is involved in international or domestic traffic based on the origin and destination of the freight it carries, rather than the point-to-point route of the truck itself. In addition, it determined that the repositioning or movement of foreign-based equipment without a payload is not a domestic move.

Revenue Canada has indicated that it would develop a reciprocal policy for U.S. carriers moving equipment in Canada.

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