Home > Uncategorized > US Trade Rep: Mexico Truck Program Could Operate In 4-6 Months

US Trade Rep: Mexico Truck Program Could Operate In 4-6 Months

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)–A program to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. could be “up and running” in four to six months, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday, potentially ending a dispute between the two countries that has lasted more than a decade.

Mexican Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said he was “cautiously optimistic” about an initiative the U.S. presented last week to begin talks between the two countries designed to lift a U.S. ban on Mexican truckers operating north of the border.

Speaking alongside the Mexican and Canadian trade czars at an annual meeting under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Kirk said the U.S. “would like to sit down and begin” negotiations with Mexico in the next week.

If that happens, if the U.S. Department of Transportation thinks an agreement to allow cross-border trucking can be reached, and if the U.S. Congress passes corresponding legislation, Kirk said a program could be “up and running as quickly as within the next four to six months.”

The dispute arose in the 1990s amid U.S. reluctance to enact a Nafta provision that would have permitted Mexican truckers to operate in the U.S. after the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union voiced concerns about U.S. jobs and the safety of Mexican trucks. In 2009, the dispute flared up after several quiet years when U.S. President Barack Obama signed an omnibus spending bill that eliminated funding for a pilot program allowing a limited number of Mexican carriers into the U.S.

Mexico soon responded with retaliatory tariffs on around 90 U.S. agricultural and manufactured products worth more than $2 billion a year. Using a “carousel” mechanism provided under Nafta rules, last year Mexico removed 16 products from the list and added 26 others, adding an element of uncertainty designed to prompt U.S. exporters to pressure the government to end the cross-border trucking ban.

On Monday, Ferrari said Mexico will immediately suspend the carousel procedure and won’t add or remove any more U.S. products from the list subject to retaliatory tariffs as a “sign on our part showing the goodwill we have.”

Mexico is awaiting further progress toward ending the ban before it will lift the tariffs, however, Ferrari added.

-By Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires; 5255-5980-5178; paul.kiernan@dowjones.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110110-712719.html

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Categories: Uncategorized

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