A settlement in the protracted dispute over Mexican trucks entering the U.S. is in the offing.
President Obama announced at a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón today that a deal had been reached in which 50 percent of the tariffs that Mexico imposed on the U.S. — including those on sunglasses, personal care products and synthetic staple fiber yarns from the U.S. — for failing to implement the plan that was part of the North American Free Trade Agreement will be lifted immediately and a pilot program will begin to allow Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, provided they meet safety requirements and drivers pass skill and language tests. The balance of the tariffs will be dropped once a final deal is reached.
“After nearly 20 years, we finally have found a clear path to resolving the dispute over trucking between our two countries,” Obama said.
A pilot project that allowed trucks to cross the border was scrapped in 2009, leading Mexico to impose retaliatory sanctions on nearly 90 U.S. products.
U.S. truckers, led by the Teamsters Union, have been arguing that it would cost jobs in southwestern states, while many in Congress have fought against access over concerns about border and road security, and environmental impact, since Mexican laws are seen as less stringent than U.S. regulations in those areas.
U.S. importers have maintained that not allowing Mexican trucks to cross the border was time-consuming and costly.
Congress still needs to approve the deal, and Obama noted the importance of the trade relationship between the two countries and said business with Mexico supported one million American jobs.
“Our exports to Mexico are growing faster than they are with the rest of the world,” he said. “I look forward to consulting with Congress and moving forward in a way that strengthens the safety of cross-border trucking, lifts tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. goods, expands our exports to Mexico and creates jobs on both sides of the border,” Obama said.