CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Environmentalists say falling trade barriers are sending millions of polluting older U.S. vehicles south of the border to rumble anew in Mexico.
It's estimated more than 3 million late-model cars and trucks have been legally sold in Mexico in the last 2 1/2 years and millions more are headed south because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
NAFTA officially requires Mexico to begin opening its market to some used vehicles from the U.S. and Canada next year. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox sped up the process in August 2005 when he agreed to allow the import of vehicles 10 to 15 years old. That decree was modified this year to allow imports of only 1998 models for the rest of 2008.
The import of roomy used U.S. cars has meant a slump in sales in Mexico for new cars meeting stricter environmental standards, the Times reported.
"The U.S. sends us junk, and Mexico sends back pollution," said Alma Leticia Figueroa Jimenez, the former head of ecology for Ciudad Juarez.