Mexican Trucks Must Be on the Agenda This Week

Excruciatingly difficult political issues will be at the forefront when Mexican President Felipe Calderon comes to Washington this week, notably the murderous drug wars and the continued flow of illegal aliens from Mexico entering the United States. We hope the near-intractable does not become an excuse for inaction on the achievable — a resolution of the cross-border trucking issue, which prompted Mexico to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports of manufactured goods and agricultural products.

The New York Times reduces the dispute to a single reference in its preview, “Mexican Leader to Visit U.S. as Woes Mount“:

Though the two governments are at odds on a variety of issues, including the immigration crackdown and a dispute over allowing Mexican trucks to enter the United States, relations between Mr. Calderón and Mr. Obama are close, say aides on both sides. The state dinner that Mr. Obama will hold for Mr. Calderón on Wednesday is evidence, since such events have been rare in the Obama presidency.

Being compadres is nice, but it’s no substitute for action. As The Capital Press, a West Coast agriculture weekly and website editorialized in April, “Obama must back talk with action.” The editorial reports startling news that warrants wider circulation:

Last month ConAgra shut down its french fry plant in Prosser, Wash. It said the 20 percent tariff Mexico slapped on frozen fries has greatly reduced demand for the plant’s output. The Washington Potato Commission said the tariff has cost the potato industry $15 million in sales. California grape shippers say they’ve lost 70 percent of their Mexican business in the 12 months since the tariffs have been in place. Growers of impacted goods across the West say they have either lost sales entirely or have been forced to discount their price to account for the tariff.

Although the administration promised swift action to rectify the impasse, 13 months have passed without any tangible results or any indication of what that action might be. Growers and processors in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho are literally paying the freight to keep the Teamsters happy.

As the NAM’s Doug Goudie pointed out in his post on Monday, about two-thirds of the $2.4 billion in U.S. exports being affected by Mexico’s retaliatory are manufactured goods.

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