Meeting to highlight NAFTA transport issues The eighth annual Transporte Internacional conference will take place March 4-6 in San Antonio, Tex. The meeting's theme -- "Managing Change, Measuring Results" -- is reflected in the wide range of topics on the agenda. Sessions devoted to transportation and logistics include the role of third-party providers in Mexico, supply-chain integration, rail privatization, and strategic sourcing. A NAFTA update will be provided by officials from the U.S. DOT, the Canadian Transportation Ministry, and Mexico's Director General de Auto Transporte. Attendees will also be able to tour the North American Trade Automation Prototype (NATAP) facility operated by Ryder Integrated Logistics at Kelly Air Force Base. NATAP is a program developed by the U.S. government to coordinate and automate crossborder processes. For more information, telephone the organizers at 210-545-0103. A Web site featuring conference developments is at www.kingsley-group.com.

Mexican firm inks GM deal Mexico's Sanluis Rassini Autopartes has contracted to supply General Motors Corp. with suspension and brake components for its North American light trucks. Rassini is expected to invest $150 million to handle the production increase. Last year, the firm was named "Supplier of the Year" by GM for the fifth time in a row.

Do not pass go... Go straight to jail. A novel aspect of tougher penalties recently enacted by Ontario to combat U.S. and Canadian trucks found operating in the province with safety defects is the establishment of "truck jails." The lockups, located throughout Ontario, will confine trucks deemed to have serious safety defects. The new laws also hold that trucking companies and their drivers are "absolutely liable" for fines up to $50,000 Canadian ($36,000 U.S.) for trucks that lose their wheels. In addition, a driver found to be driving under the influence of alcohol for the third time will have his or her license permanently revoked.

Mexico poised for U.S. entry The North American Transportation Alliance says at least 160 Mexican companies have applied to operate in the U.S. under the terms set out by NAFTA. According to Jose Aguilar Alcerreca, director general-land transportation for Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, some 10,000 of the 300,000 units running nationwide in Mexico are able to compete within the entire NAFTA region.

O Canada! While Mexico is usually the first place that jumps to mind when Americans hear the word "NAFTA," there's a lot going on north of our other border, too. According to Transport Canada, since the trade agreement was implemented, crossborder truck crossings between the U.S. and Canada climbed 25% in just three years.

International ITS The latest edition of a worldwide sourcebook on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) includes over 1,800 profiles of products and services available in 40 countries, including 800 in North America alone. The International ITS Index listings include key contacts, products and services offered, partnerships, and number of ITS-related employees. For more information, contact Transport Technology Publishing at 607-770-4075.

Hankook breaks new China ground Seoul, Korea-based Hankook Tire is building a new radial-tire plant at Huaiyin in the People's Republic of China through its joint-venture company there, Jiangsu Hankook Tire Co. Full-scale tire production is slated to begin at the new facility this December. The Korean tire maker also notes it is planning to build two more plants, to be located in China and Southeast Asia.

Aeroquip training in Mexico Maumee, Ohio-based Aeroquip has established a permanent training center in Mexico City. The manufacturer had previously opened a marketing office and a distribution center at the same site. The training center will include a classroom and teaching shop. As it does in the U.S., Aeroquip will offer training focused on hose and fitting products. Distributors from all over Mexico, as well as from other Latin American countries, will visit the new center for regularly scheduled training programs.

Wabash buys European stake Lafayette, Ind.-based Wabash National Corp. has gained a 25.1% interest in a European-based RoadRailer operation for approximately $6 million. Wabash took the stake in Munich-based ETZ, which operates Wabash's RoadRailer convertible truck-rail trailers on routes between Germany and Italy. "Our ability to lend technical support and expertise in the operation of the equipment there should facilitate the further expansion of the RoadRailer system in Europe," says Wabash chairman Jerry Ehrlich.

Bowties to Africa A General Motors dealer in Namibia, Barden International, is investing $30 million to purchase and convert full-size Chevrolet C/K pickup trucks to right-hand drive for sale in the southwestern African nation. As part of the deal, the government of Namibia has ordered over 700 Chevy trucks, which will be built in North America. About 250 of the trucks will be converted by Manchester, Pa.-based Quigley Motor Co. and the rest by Barden at its new facility in Namibia.