Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Trade?

Farm Bureau to Obama: Mexican Trucking Scantions Hurt Ag

WASHINGTON– In an effort to end Mexican trade sanctions against U.S. farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking a new cross-border trucking program that complies with NAFTA.

Expressing disappointment in Congress’ decision to end the Transportation Department’s Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program, American Farm BF President Bob Stallman said Mexico has already responded by imposing $2.4 billion in trade retaliation.

“This action by Congress has come at a cost to U.S. agriculture and our exports to one of our top markets,” Stallman said. “We urge you to find a resolution that will honor our obligations under NAFTA, eliminating any cause for Mexico to halt U.S. trade.”

Under the terms of NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico each agreed to allow trucks from the other nation access into their countries. Unfortunately, the U.S. maintained its restriction on Mexican trucks crossing the border even after NAFTA implementation began. The Transportation Department’s pilot program with Mexico was developed as a step toward meeting that commitment. The pilot program came after a NAFTA dispute panel ruled the exclusion of all Mexican trucks violated U.S. obligations under NAFTA.

Now that the pilot program has been eliminated, the U.S. finds itself, once again, not in compliance with its obligations under NAFTA.

“The NAFTA panel’s ruling gives Mexico the right to retaliate against U.S. products entering Mexico, and it has done so,” Stallman said. “This retaliation will affect hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fruit, vegetable, nut, juice, wine, processed foods and oilcake exports to Mexico.”
Stallman urged Obama to implement a program compliant with U.S. obligations under NAFTA that assures safe vehicles on U.S. roads. “Delay in these actions will only prolong the negative impact on U.S. exports and our agricultural producers,” Stallman concluded.

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