WASHINGTON — Mexico said Monday it plans to impose punitive duties on U.S. exports in retaliation for the cancellation of a controversial cross-border trucking program.

This story first appeared in the March 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The tariffs will hit 90 U.S. products, targeting primarily agricultural goods such as beef, beans, rice and wheat, House Republicans said. The duties might also affect textile and cotton exports, but it could not be learned if those products were on Mexico’s list.

Mexico is targeting $2.4 billion worth of key U.S. agricultural exports, Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Tex.) said.

“I urge the administration to work quickly to develop a stronger and more rigorous program that will protect our highways and avoid exposing our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers to significant collateral damage through retaliation,” Brady said.

Congressional Democrats and the Teamsters union have opposed the truck program because of safety concerns and the potential impact on U.S. jobs.

Mexico said the U.S. decision to terminate the program violates the 15-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

“While many view the truck pilot program as flawed, we now face retaliation for eliminating it,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee. “At this stage, the administration must develop a better trucking program that not only assures the safety of our highways but also eliminates the new penalties our exports will face.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration plans to work with Congress to restore and restructure the program that was launched under former President George W. Bush and allowed 100 Mexican-based truck carriers to travel in the U.S. with reciprocity for U.S. trucks driving in Mexico.