WASHINGTON – The United States and Mexico crossed the first of two important hurdles in resolving the ongoing trade dispute regarding Mexican trucks on US roadways stemming from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), said Kent Bacus, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s manager of legislative affairs.

While in Mexico City, Ray LaHood, US Department of Transportation Secretary, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on July 6 establishing safety guidelines for trucks from Mexico to be allowed on US roads. The MOU also lifts half of the retaliatory tariffs.

The dispute has resulted in Mexico levying $2.6 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on US products. Cattlemen are relieved the dispute has been resolved before U.S. beef joined the ranks of other U.S. commodities that were hit with tariffs, Bacus said.

“The US exports more beef to Mexico than any other country,” he added. “Mexican consumers purchased $819 million worth of US beef last year alone. We cannot afford to jeopardize that relationship. This MOU ensures that won’t happen. NCBA commends the US and Mexican governments for reaching an agreement to resolve this issue before more US commodities are hit with retaliatory tariffs.”

Based on terms in the MOU, the remaining Mexican tariffs will be lifted when the first Mexican truck is authorized to drive on US roads. Bacus said NCBA encourages US Department of Transportation to proceed expeditiously toward the second phase of the MOU.

“Under NAFTA, Mexico eliminated its tariffs on US beef imports,” he said. “That gave the US a competitive advantage. However, if US beef imports were added to the list of tariffed commodities, we would lose market share that would be difficult to regain.

“As we look to expand trade opportunities for US beef around the globe, it is critical that we continue to build the relationship with our neighbors to the South. We are encouraged by the signing of the MOU and encourage full implementation of the agreement to end the dispute once and for all,” he concluded.