Mexico agrees to stop “rotation” of tariff’s but will not lift them until agreement is reached

MEXICO CITY – Mexico will maintain punitive tariffs on 99 U.S. products but will not add any more goods or change the list pending negotiations over a new program to allow Mexican cargo trucks on U.S. roads, the government announced Monday.

Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said the move is a show of goodwill as the two countries begin discussing an initiative the U.S. presented last week to lift a U.S. ban on Mexican trucks.

“As of this moment we stop that rotating process” — the expansion of the taxed list and the periodic changing of goods subject to the punitive tariffs, Ferrari said after a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The Mexican government has protested the U.S. ban on Mexican trucks as a violation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico initially levied higher tariffs on 89 U.S. products in March 2009, after the U.S. Congress failed to renew the pilot program that let a limited number of Mexican trucking companies haul freight beyond a 25-mile (40-kilometer) border commercial zone.

Last year, Mexico added 10 more goods and changed some of the products on the list after the U.S. failed to present a proposal for resolving the dispute.

Mexico’s punitive tariffs range from 5 percent to 15 percent on everything from cheese, fruits, juice and pork products to wine and toilet paper.

The tariffs have caused U.S. companies about $2 billion in commercial losses, Kirk said.