Fri, Apr 10, 2009 - Page 7 News List

US firms want trucking spat resolved

AFP , WASHINGTON

More than 150 industrial giants issued a joint letter on Wednesday calling on Washington to end a multibillion-dollar trade dispute over Mexican truckers entering the US.

Wal-Mart Stores, General Electric and the American Farm Bureau Federation were among those who urged US President Barack Obama “to work expeditiously” to end the dispute, which has resulted in billions of dollars in tariffs being slapped on US goods.

US officials last month canceled a program that allowed some Mexican truckers to operate in the US, violating a section of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) designed to opened cross-border trucking years ago.

Mexico in turn slapped tariffs on about US$2.4 billion in US products, which they said was equal to the trade lost by the trucks no longer allowed north of the border.

OBLIGATIONS

The letter urges Obama to “ensure the United States is upholding its bilateral trade obligations with Mexico” and says that Mexico’s retaliatory measures “have the potential to shut out the targeted US products providing an opportunity for our foreign competitors to fill that void.”

The retaliation “puts over 12,000 agricultural and 14,000 manufacturing jobs at risk,” it said.

“The retaliation is already impacting the ability of a broad range of US goods to compete in the Mexican market, from potatoes and sunscreen to paper and dishwashers,” the letter read.

NAFTA, one of the world’s largest trade agreements, between the US, Canada and Mexico, came into effect on Jan. 1, 1994.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

As Obama prepares for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in the middle of this month, “it will be critical for him to lead by example and demonstrate to our trading partners that the United States lives by its word,” said Chuck Dittrich, a top official with the National Foreign Trade Council.

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