While President Bush and other U.S. officials have derided fears of a NAFTA superhighway as merely conspiracy theory, a Mexican transportation expert contends the trade agreement includes plans for a network of international ship, rail and truck connections to deliver consumer goods from China and the Far East to Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.
"Transportation linking the United States, Mexico and Canada is key to the future of NAFTA," Eduardo Aspero, president of the Mexican Intermodal Association, told a recent luncheon sponsored by the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio.
In transportation economics, the term "intermodal" refers to the ability to move a container by crane to different modes of transportation, including ship, truck and railroad, without having to unpack or repack the container.
"It was interesting how the NAFTA transportation network so vehemently denied by the U.S. government was alive and well in Aspero's speech and openly discussed in San Antonio," said Terri Hall, founder of the San Antonio Toll Party.
WND reported President Bush, while attending the third annual summit of the Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting in Quebec last August said in an internationally televised press conference that those who believe the SPP might lead to NAFTA superhighways or a North American Union are "conspiracy theorists."
Hall, who attended Aspero's San Antonio speech, is a political activist whose website, TexasTurf.org (http://www.TexasTurf.org) , is dedicated to fighting the Trans-Texas Corridor and the expansion of toll roads in the state.
Aspero focused on plans by the Chinese firm of Hutchison Ports Holdings to develop the deep-water Mexican ports of Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo, on the Pacific Ocean south of Texas, to bring containers from China into North America.
As WND has reported, Hutchison Ports Holdings is paying billions of dollars to deepen Mexican ports such as Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo in anticipation of the arrival of post-Pamamex mega-ships capable of holding up to 12,500 containers currently being built for Chinese shipping lines.
WND also has reported how the U.S. southern border is being blurred for the benefit of global trade, with the official website of the Mexican northeastern state of Nuevo Leon disclosing plans to extend the Trans-Texas Corridor south through Monterrey to connect with Pacific ports in Mexico.
Aspero noted that currently 400,000 containers a year are being transported by truck and rail from Mexican ports on the Pacific into the U.S.
"The purpose of ports such as Lazaro Cardenas is to facilitate the cost-efficient transportation of container goods from Asia into the United States," he explained.
"Lazaro Cardenas is the new hope for intermodalism in Mexico," Aspero said, noting that Lazaro Cardenas is Mexico's deepest port at 49 feet, capable of accepting virtually any cargo ship in the world.
"Aspero noted that the largest markets for the Chinese-manufactured goods are at the center of the United States and in the Northeast," Hall said.
"He was trying to explain why multi-national corporations engaged in global trade continue to pressure the Bush administration," she continued. "Their goal is to cut loose American longshoremen on the West Coast in favor of the cheaper Mexican labor that can get goods into the interior of the United States through the southern route from these Mexican ports on the Pacific."
Aspero also argued the Automated Manifest System (AMS) put in place by U.S. Customs in 2002 is a key development in North American intermodal transportation.
"AMS allows cargo from Asia to go through Mexican ports virtually without any physical inspection," he explained. "AMS pre-clears cargo at the point of origin, not at the border when the container enters the United States."