Two key Republican House members are calling on the Obama administration to end an impasse with Mexico over cross-border trucking.
Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) issued the following statements today regarding the Mexican trucking dispute as the NAFTA Commission meetings commence in Mexico:
Congressman Camp: “Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. exports and provides U.S. employers with an opportunity to create badly needed jobs here at home. But for nearly two years, American workers and exporters have been needlessly subjected to retaliatory duties because the Administration has failed to resolve the trucking dispute with Mexico. The failure to address these retaliatory duties makes U.S. exports and American workers less competitive and is costing us jobs. Inaction on the Mexican trucking dispute is inexcusable. The Administration has the resources to both ensure the safety of U.S. highways and level the playing field for American workers – it needs to act.”
Congressman Brady: “While American farmers lose sales to other countries and U.S. manufacturers continue to be punished by America’s breech of its NAFTA commitments, it’s simply unacceptable for USTR to participate in the NAFTA Commission meeting without the Administration having taken the necessary steps to resolve the cross-border trucking issue. This is protectionism that hurts American workers and damages U.S. credibility on trade issues, and the economic damage only grows the longer the White House delays. The Administration must act now, to work with Congress before the end of the year, to resolve this issue.”
On March 11, 2009, bowing to pressure from The Teamsters and others, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1105, which prohibited funding of a pilot program designed to ensure select Mexican trucks met U.S. safety standards. The termination of this program violated U.S. NAFTA obligations, and Mexico retaliated by imposing tariffs on over $1.5 billion in U.S. manufactured products and $900 million in U.S. agriculture products. These legal tariff’s have cost Americans more than 50,000 jobs and American ag producers more than 18% market share, lost to Canadian markets.
On the one year anniversary of Congressional termination of the NAFTA trucking pilot program, March 9, 2010, Reps. Camp and Brady called on the Administration resolve the issue and get the retaliatory duties lifted.
On March 18, 2009, Reps. Camp and Brady wrote to the President and urged the “Administration to work quickly with all interested stakeholders to develop a new program.” They warned, “If we choose to continue to disregard our obligations and compel this retaliation, we are punishing our farmers, businesses and workers at a time when our economy is in great distress.”
On June 8, 2009, a bipartisan group of House members, led by John Salazar (D-CO) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), wrote the President: “[W]e would like to work with you and your Administration to move toward a quick resolution on this issue. Further economic harm to U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service providers is something this country cannot afford.”
To date, their pleas have been ignored and the tariff’s were renewed, with Mexico shifting tariffs between products to get the attention of US lawmakers.
Perhaps now, with the swearing in of the new Congress in January, we’ll see some action on this important issue. Perhaps, Obama should show some real leadrship and do what’s right before this Congress adjourns.