Cross-Border Trucking Dispute Remains Obstacle to U.S. Exports

By November 18, 2010General, Trade

Congress is awash in discussion of pork, i.e., appropriations and earmarks. We wish our elected officials would pay a little more attention to some REAL pork. From the National Pork Producers Council, “Mexican Trucking Dispute Hurting U.S. Pork“:

U.S. pork exports to Mexico have fallen by a whopping 20 percent since the Mexican government added pork to the list of U.S. products against which it is retaliating for the failure of the United States to live up to a trade obligation.

In August, Mexico put a 5 percent tariff on most U.S. pork imports, as well as tariffs on other U.S. products, in reprisal for the United States not complying with a provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that allows Mexican trucks to haul goods into America. The provision was supposed to become effective in December 1995.

The National Pork Producers Council has been urging the Obama administration to resolve as quickly as possible the trucking dispute, which first erupted in March 2009 when Mexico placed higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion of U.S. goods after the U.S. Congress failed to renew a pilot program that let a limited number of Mexican trucking companies to haul freight beyond a 25-mile U.S. commercial zone.

Of course, it’s not only pork products, but a long list of U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods that have suffered from the retaliatory tariffs. Here’s the list. As the NAM’s Doug Goudie blogged back in August, the Mexican government plans to “carousel” or rotate the products on the tariff list.

And now the carousel is getting set to turn again. From Reuters, Nov. 11, “Mexico says “clock ticking” on U.S. truck row“:

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Mexico will slap retaliatory tariffs on a new set of U.S. goods unless Washington moves to resolve a decade-old trucking dispute and the “clock is ticking” for action, Mexico’s economy minister told Reuters….

Mexican Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, while sidetracked by the recent mid-term elections, had been slow to deliver a promised new proposal to resolve the issue.

“I haven’t seen any specific plan on my desk,” Ferrari said on Thursday in an interview in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, where he was attending a ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The Department of Commerce reported Tuesday, “U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Canadian Minister of Industry Tony Clement and Mexican Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today hosted a trilateral meeting of North American Industry Ministers with Canada’s Minister of Industry Tony Clement and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari.  The officials discussed North American economic competitiveness and deeper trilateral cooperation on trade and economic issues. 

The trilateral meeting, which took place on the margins of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, focused on the implementation of the President Obama’s National Export Initiative and the ways Canada, Mexico, and the United States can better cooperate with the high levels of industry and sector integration as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Well, here’s a way: The United States should live up to its treaty obligations and implement the cross-border trucking program.

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