Mexico retaliates against U.S. pork

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – One long-time U.S. pork industry fear was finally realized on Aug. 16 when Mexico added pork to the list of U.S. products it is retaliating against because the United States failed to honor its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.) to allow Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States.

“Mexico’s retaliation against U.S. pork will have negative economic consequences for America’s pork producers,” said Sam Carney, National Pork Producers Council (N.P.P.C.) president and a producer from Adair, Iowa. “We are extremely disappointed that our top-volume export market has taken this action, but we’re more disappointed that the U.S. is not living up to its trade obligations.

“That failure not only has hurt dozens of U.S. industries economically, but it could prompt other countries to think twice about entering into trade deals with the U.S.,” Mr. Carney added. “Our trading partners need assurance the U.S. will live up to its trade obligations.”

In early March 2009, the U.S. Congress failed to renew a pilot program that allowed a limited number of Mexican trucks to haul freight into U.S. beyond a 25-mile commercial zone. The Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program was started by the U.S. Department of Transportation in September 2007 as a way to begin implementing the N.A.F.T.A. trucking provision, which was supposed to take effect in December 1995.

In February 2001, an N.A.F.T.A. dispute-settlement panel ruled that excluding Mexican trucks violated U.S. obligations under the trade deal. The ruling gave Mexico the right to retaliate against U.S. products, which it did in March 2009, placing higher tariffs on more than $2.4 billion of U.S. goods. Pork was not included on that initial retaliation list.

Mexico is a top market for all kinds of U.S. exports, providing millions of jobs to U.S. workers,” Carney said. “The retaliation puts thousands of agricultural jobs at risk, including, now, pork industry jobs, and thousands of manufacturing jobs at risk.”

N.P.P.C. has been urging the Obama administration to work with Congress to quickly resolve the trucking issue with Mexico, which last year bought $762 million of U.S. pork.
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