The U.S. Department of Transportation has indicated that the first Mexican truck may receive operating authority to enter the United States by early October, according to the National Pork Producers Council. The action will finally bring to an end a long-standing dispute between the nations over a trucking provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Earlier this summer the U.S. and Mexican governments signed an agreement that will allow the Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States and that cuts Mexico’s tariffs on U.S. pork by half.

Under the new pilot program, the remaining Mexican tariffs on 99 U.S. goods, including a 2.5 percent duty on most U.S. pork, will be suspended when the first Mexican carrier crosses into the United States. Tariffs were reduced by 50 percent after the U.S. and Mexican governments signed the trucking pilot program agreement.

To date, seven Mexican motor carriers have applied to operate under the new pilot program, and two of these carriers have already gone through pre-authority audits. NPPC has been urging the Obama administration to live up to a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement that allows Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States. The organization also has been urging Congress to let the pilot program be implemented as negotiated.

Last week, NPPC helped defeat an amendment to the fiscal 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill that would have prevented funding for parts of the cross-border trucking program.

Mexico is the second largest market for the U.S. pork industry, which shipped $986 million of pork south of the border in 2010. Since 1993 – the year before NAFTA was implemented – U.S. pork exports to Mexico have increased by 780 percent.

In the first 10 months of 2011, U.S. exports to Mexico were down 10 percent from the same period a year before, while Canadian exports grew by 64 percent. At any time should Congress deny funding to the cross-border trucking program, the Mexican government reserves the right to reinstate tariffs on the current list of products with the possibility of increasing tariffs and adding new U.S. goods to the retaliation list.

Source: NPPC