Borderlands: Truckers hail House passage of USMCA; officials discover never-before-seen bug in Mexico shipment

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Truckers hail House passage of USMCA trade pact; officials discover never-before-seen bug in Mexico shipment; Grammer Logistics acquires Houston-based hazardous materials transportation firm; and SATO expands auto-ID services with new Guanajuato facility.

Truckers, union officials hail House passage of US-Mexico-Canada trade pact

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Dec. 19 by a 385-41 vote.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear said cross-border trade is key to the U.S. economy.

“By the nature of our work, truckers know the significance of this victory. Cross-border trade with our neighbors has become a cornerstone of the American economy,” Spear said in a release. “Strengthening this relationship as USMCA does help secure our economy’s foundation and ensures we will remain competitive in the global marketplace for decades to come.”

However, the U.S. Senate probably will not take up the USMCA vote until after the impeachment trial of President Trump, which is expected to begin in January.

Mexico’s Senate has already ratified the USMCA, while Canada’s Parliament is expected to vote soon.

USMCA would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which entered force on Jan. 1, 1994.

Car manufacturing was a key element of the USMCA. To be sold without tariffs, the trade deal will require that 75% of car or auto parts need to have originated in either the U.S., Canada or Mexico. With NAFTA, the requirement was 62.5%. Also, between 40 and 45% of it must be manufactured by workers who earn at least $16 per hour.

USMCA also includes tighter and enforceable labor standards, in an effort to slow the export of U.S. factory and white-collar jobs south of the border, according to labor union officials.

“Renegotiation of NAFTA and the subsequent improvements made by Democratic leadership have resulted in a final package that is superior to the original,” Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said in a statement.

USMCA also would give U.S. trucking companies a mechanism to initiate an investigation against a Mexican carrier. The measure is aimed at American trucking companies concerned about approved NAFTA Mexican truckers not following rules set by the new trade pact.

Port of Nogales officials intercept never-before-seen bug in shipment from Mexico

An invasive insect was found by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the Port of Nogales Dec. 9.

Polyamia delongi, from the Cicadellidae family, was found by CBP agricultural specialists in Nogales during an inspection of an imported commodity at the border, CBP officials said in a release. Polyamia delongi is not known to exist in the Western Hemisphere.

After the insect was discovered during the inspection, it was forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agricultural Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologist who confirmed the finding.

CBP issued an emergency action notification to the importer, and following fumigation protocol procedures, the shipment was released into U.S. commerce.

“CBP agriculture specialists are highly trained. They do an excellent job in determining the admissibility of agriculture commodities,” Armando Goncalvez, CBP assistant director of field operations in Tucson, Arizona, said in a release. “We have a great working relationship with our USDA partners, and together we protect the nation from a variety of evolving dynamic threats such as invasive pests that could harm the United States’ agriculture resources.”

Grammer Logistics acquires Houston-based hazardous materials transportation firm

Grammer Industries, a Columbus, Indiana-based hazardous materials transportation and logistics firm, acquired LiMarCo Logistics on Dec. 6, according to news outlet Bulk Transporter.

Houston-based LiMarCo is a regional hauler of liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas liquids, with geographic focuses in Louisiana, Oklahoma and the Upper Texas Gulf Coast and West Texas regions.

As a result of the transaction, Grammer will acquire Limarco’s 26 tractors, 41 trailers and 15 independent contractors. LiMarCo’s Houston facility was not included in the transaction.

The Corpus Christi facility, which is currently LiMarCo’s base of operations, will provide Grammer with an office, shop and yard space for parking equipment.

“Both companies have commercial and operational synergies that make this a great fit,” Bart Middleton, chief executive officer of Grammer, said in an interview with Bulk Transporter. “Grammer and LiMarCo share best-in-class safety and driver retention metrics, so we expect a smooth transition. This is a win-win for all involved.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SATO expands auto-ID services to Bajio region of Guanajuato, Mexico

SATO, a global firm specializing in the development of auto-ID and labeling solutions, announced the launch of a new group company in the Bajio region of Guanajuato called SATO Mexico.

The new group aims to capitalize on automotive companies and their suppliers that are clustered in the Bajio region. Mexico is the sixth-largest producer of vehicles in the world, according to SATO officials.

SATO provides auto-ID solutions for manufacturers in the automotive sector, such as bar code and RFID systems, voice and image recognition and real-time location systems.

“We see big potential to drive operational efficiencies and productivity to customers in Mexico as one of the global leaders in variable labels and auto-ID solutions,” SATO International President Hayato Shindo said in a release. “It is a must for us to be in Mexico, the second-largest economy in Latin America.”

SATO International was founded in Tokyo in 1940. The company has about 5,300 employees worldwide.