The Obama Administration announced this week a resolution to the long-running dispute over Mexican trucks on American roads that has cost the U.S. agriculture industry more than $2 billion in recent years from retaliatory duties.
On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his Mexican counterpart signed agreements to resolve the problem, which arose when Congress cut off funding in the 2009 omnibus spending bill for a trucking pilot program. That program had permitted a limited number of Mexican carriers into the U.S., which is required under NAFTA.
In response, Mexico implemented tariffs on nearly 100 products. Though wheat has not been a targeted product, NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates have been actively engaged in efforts to push DOT and Congress to resolve the issue with one of our largest wheat customers.
The agreements signed this week outline that Mexico will suspend 50 percent of retaliatory tariffs within 10 days and the remainder within five days of the first Mexican trucking company receiving authority to operate in the U.S.
Mexican trucks operating in the U.S. will be required to comply with all federal motor vehicle safety standards and be monitored electronically to ensure compliance with hours-of-service laws.
The DOT will review records of Mexican drivers and require them to undergo drug tests, processed in the U.S., and language assessment tests.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the resolution is a “major win for U.S. agriculture”, noting that exports of affected commodities were down 27 percent with the tariffs.
USDA said Mexico is U.S. agriculture’s third-ranked trading partner, buying $14.5 billion of U.S. farm goods last year Overall, U.S. agricultural exports will support more than 1.1 million jobs in America this year.
The wheat industry will continue to monitor this issue as the new agreements go into effect.
More from the DOT on the agreement is at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2011/dot7911a.html.