Alliance: Cross-border truck dispute harms jobs
On the eve of today's Jobs Summit at the White House, a coalition of companies and trade associations again urged President Barack Obama to resolve a longstanding dispute about cross-border trucking that led Mexico earlier this year to impose tariffs on many U.S. goods.
The Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs, which includes more than 150 manufacturers, retailers and agricultural interests, said the tariffs have caused companies to cut jobs because of fewer exports south of the border. The alliance was formed last summer to push for a resolution over Mexican truck access to U.S. highways.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last spring that the administration was working quickly to restructure a pilot program that had allowed several dozen Mexican trucks to make deliveries in the interior of the United States, but no progress has been announced so far. Congress terminated the program early in the year citing safety concerns with Mexican trucks and drivers on U.S. highways. After Congress killed the program, Mexico retaliated in March by slapping tariffs of 10 percent to 45 percent on 90 U.S. exports ranging from pears to shampoo, Christmas trees and cordless phones. The tariffs were estimated to cost U.S. businesses $2.6 billion per year in lost sales.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the U.S. agreed to allow Mexican trucks into the country within three years, but Congress has repeatedly blocked their entrance.
The Alliance said it estimates that more than 25,000 jobs are either threatened or have been lost as a result of Mexico's retaliatory tariffs. Member companies include Whirlpool, Caterpillar, General Electric, Kraft Foods, Wal-Mart and Archer Daniels Midland Co.
'Congress and the administration need to find a resolution to this ongoing issue,' said alliance spokesman John Murphy in a statement. 'It's not only adding to continued job losses in the U.S., but it is undermining the U.S. relationship with Mexico and eliminating a valuable market for U.S. manufactured goods and agricultural products.'