WASHINGTON — Last week, the American Meat Institute voiced its support for a new pilot program for long-haul trucking from Mexico in comments submitted to the Department of Transportation (DOT). Its comments were filed in response to the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Federal Register notice to initiate a Pilot Program on North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Long-Haul Trucking Provisions.

“As a signatory to the NAFTA agreement, Mexico has emerged as a vital trading partner for the US meat industry,” wrote Mark Dopp, AMI senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel.

In 2010, Mexico was the largest customer for US beef and variety meats, surpassing 247,000 metric tons (23 percent of total US beef exports), as well as importing more than 545,700 metric tons of pork and variety meats (representing over 28 percent of total US pork exports), Dopp noted. Mexico also was the largest destination for US poultry at more than 595,000 metric tons.

Implementation of the program will do the following, Dopp said:

  • Terminate the retaliatory tariffs on 99 US products, including an important pork item, valued at $2.4 billion.
  • Bring the US into conformity with its international trade obligations and re-establish its credibility when insisting that countries adhere to commitments under agreements with the US.
  • Ensure the safety of US roads through strict requirements on Mexican trucks and truckers.
  • Allow US pork producers and producers of the other products affected by the retaliatory tariffs to regain their competitive positions and market shares in Mexico and recover the jobs lost because of the decline in exports.

“If, for whatever reason, the US fails to implement this agreement, US pork producers and other producers are certain to face a continuation of retaliation, with the likelihood of new items added to the retaliation list. Exports will suffer and more jobs will be lost. The pilot program is a sound basis for resolution of this lengthy dispute and AMI strongly supports its implementation,” Dopp concluded.