Friday, January 7, 2011

'Going To Mexico'

We soon may see a resolution to a more than 15-year-old trade dispute between the United States and Mexico, one that more recently enveloped the U.S. pork industry.

The Obama administration yesterday announced a "concept document" that includes the details for allowing Mexican trucks to haul freight into the United States. Currently, long-haul trucks from Mexico are barred from entering the country beyond a 25-mile commercial zone at selected border crossings.

Under a provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican trucks were to begin entering the United States in December 1995, but the Clinton administration, bowing to union opposition, postponed implementation of the provision. In March 2009, after continued U.S. recalcitrance on the trucking issue, Mexico imposed retaliatory import tariffs on $2.4 billion of U.S. goods, and in August it added more products to its retaliation list, including pork.

The new concept document, which was denounced by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters -- the truckers' union -- is a "starting point" for negotiations on the trucking issue.

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