Mexico truckers protest taxes, diesel price

Mexican truckers on February 24 called for federal government relief from a new business tax, rising diesel prices, and the growing threat of hijacking during a day of protest rallies across Mexico.

More than 8,000 Mexican trucking companies and 25,000 trucks participated in the rallies that took place in 35 cities across 16 of Mexico’s 31 states. The rallies included a parade of 500 trucks that circled the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City. The nationwide protest was organized by the Camara Nacional del Autotransporte de Carga (Canacar), Mexico’s trucking organization. Canacar officials suggested that a nationwide trucking strike was a possibility if the government failed to act.

Trucking industry representatives met with state and federal officials and delivered a list of five key demands. Topping the list was a call for suspension of the Impuesto Empresarial de Tasa unica (IETU) until Mexico’s economic downturn comes to an end. Mexico’s small trucking companies say they simply don’t have the revenues to pay the IETU, which is a relatively new business tax.

Mexican fleets want to freeze diesel prices at 5.44 pesos per liter (approximately $1.34 per gallon) and suspend the IVA, Mexico’s value added tax. Diesel prices reported have risen about 30 percent since August 2008 and fuel now accounts for as much as a third of operating costs for some Mexican fleets. Mexican truckers say many shippers refuse to pay a surcharge to help cover the higher fuel cost.

Trucking companies want a 50 percent tax credit on highway tolls paid. Tolls are expensive in Mexico. For instance, carriers say it can cost nearly $300 for a truck to take the toll road from Reynosa (on the US-Mexico border) to Monterrey (about 145 miles).

Carriers also want Mexico’s government to ban imports of used trucks from the United States.

Finally, fleets called for more police security on Mexico’s highways. Police protection actually has decreased in recent months even as cargo hijackings have increased, fleets said.

Canacar officials pointed out that more than the truckers are affected by the problems outlined in their request to the government. Eighty-percent of the products needed by consumers and businesses are transported by truck. In addition, 10% of the Mexican population depends directly on transportation.

About four million people work in Mexico’s trucking industry. More than 500,000 trucks are operating in Mexico.

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