By John Block
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It’s about time! After 17 years, the United States seems to be moving to implement the cross-border trucking provision which is specified in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Here is the disgraceful history of our refusal to live up to the trucking agreement with Mexico.
The agreement specifies that our trucks can cross the border with goods from the U.S. and deliver to Mexico City or wherever in Mexico. By the same token, Mexican trucks are permitted to deliver produce, as an example, across the border in the U.S., perhaps to Chicago.
However, before that cross-border provision was implemented, President Clinton stopped the Mexican trucks at our border at the request of the Teamsters Union. They had to be unloaded and reloaded into our trucks to go on to Chicago.
In 2001, a NAFTA panel authorized Mexico to retaliate by imposing tariffs on our exports to Mexico. In the interest of living up to our NAFTA obligation in 2007, President Bush began a pilot program opening up the trucking. The safety of Mexican trucks was compared to our own safety. Amazing – Mexican trucks delivered a better safety record than our trucks.
It looked like we were on the road to solving the dispute, but along comes President Obama in 2009 and, at the request of the Teamsters Union, he puts the brakes on Mexican trucks into the U.S.
Mexico imposes $2.4 billion in punitive tariffs on U.S. exports to Mexico. Since the tariffs were imposed, our exports of the products targeted have dropped by 81%. Pork on the taxed list has suffered more than most. That is especially costly since Mexico is our second largest pork export market.
O.K. I said it appears that maybe President Obama has come to realize that if he has any hope of “doubling exports in five years,” he needs to do something.
This week, I was at a luncheon with Jose Luis Vega, Mexican Government Minister/Representative, Trade and NAFTA Office. He spoke to our group and was optimistic that a deal is in the works. Hopefully, by some time this summer or fall, the tariffs will be lifted and the trucks rolling. We shall see.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to: www.johnblockreports.com
About the author: Secretary Block is a Senior Policy Advisor in the law firm of Olsson, Frank, and Weeda, John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food, and health. His accomplishments in agriculture began with the building of a large and successful hog operation in his home state of Illinois where he also served as the Director of Agriculture from 1977-1981. He was tapped by President Reagan to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981to 1985 where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Food Distributors International (formerly the National American Wholesale Grocers Association) from 1986-January 2003.
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