By  on July 7, 2011

WASHINGTON — Mexico has agreed to drop retaliatory tariffs by 50 percent on Friday on a list of U.S. exports that includes sunglasses, personal care products and synthetic staple yarns, as part of a settlement of a protracted dispute with the U.S. over Mexican trucks crossing the border.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday the U.S. and Mexico had signed a memorandum of understanding that will also begin allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. roads.

“By announcing a cross-border trucking program with the highest safety standards, we have taken the next step toward the complete suspension of the retaliatory duties on more than $2 billion of U.S. goods,” Kirk said. “This Friday we expect Mexico will suspend 50 percent of the tariffs levied against U.S. goods that began in March 2009.”

The first trucks are expected to cross the border at the end of August, as the tariffs expire.

Mexico imposed the sanctions in 2009 after the U.S. scrapped a pilot project that allowed Mexican trucks to cross the border, originally sanctioned by the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón reached an agreement in June to reinstate the trucking program and phase out the retaliatory tariffs.

The Teamsters Union said allowing long-haul Mexican trucks into the U.S. would cause unsafe roads and cost jobs, while importers lauded the move as a way to save costs and expedite shipments.

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