Mexico has slapped tariffs on 90 American agricultural and manufactured
exports in retaliation for the U.S. Senate's cancellation of a
provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that would
have allowed Mexican trucks to enter the United States beyond the
border commercial zones. Reuters reports that Mexican Economy Minister
Gerardo Ruiz says about US$2.4 billion worth of exports from 40 U.S.
states will be affected and that his government will soon make public
the list of products. "We consider this action by the United States to
be mistaken, protectionist, and clearly in violation of NAFTA," Ruiz
told reporters. The United States allowed Mexican trucks to begin using
U.S. highways in 1995 as part of NAFTA, but confined the trucks to
border zones where they had to offload products to be carried by U.S.
trucking companies to their final destinations. A pilot program began
in 2007 to allow a limited number of Mexican trucks full access to U.S.
roads while American trucks got similar access in Mexico. U.S.
organized labor, highway safety groups, and consumer groups opposed the
practice, while Congressional Republicans and many business trade
groups were in favor. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in
his daily briefing yesterday that the project was terminated because of
concerns about the process, but that the Obama administration has asked
the Departments of Transportation and State to work with Congress and
Mexican government officials to reach a compromise solution.
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