The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today welcomed the release by the Department of Transportation of an “initial concept document” intended to allow for a long–haul, cross-border Mexican trucking program that prioritizes safety, while complying with the U.S. trade obligations to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The concept document is aimed at rectifying a trade spat between the two countries that is hurting the U.S. dairy sector, among others.
In response to long-standing lack of U.S. compliance with its trucking obligations to Mexico under NAFTA, Mexico has been legally levying tariffs on a variety of U.S. exports since March 2009. Since August 2010, that retaliation list has included many U.S. cheeses.
“We see this announcement as a positive first step toward resolution of this long-running dispute,” said Tom Suber, USDEC president. “Since August, exports of the targeted cheeses to Mexico have plunged by 66% through November of last year. It is good that the United States recognized the heavy toll that retaliation is having on the many impacted sectors, such as America’s dairy industry, and has proposed to begin to move forward with working with Mexico to find a way to address this issue.”
Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF, concurred, adding, “Mexico is by far our largest export market and therefore absorbs sizable quantities of the milk U.S. dairy farmers produce. It is encouraging to see the U.S. initiate a path towards a permanent resolution of this transportation issue that has been negatively impacting the dairy industry, which has been caught in the resulting cross-fire of this dispute.”
NMPF and USDEC stressed the importance of the U.S. and Mexico governments working together from this starting point to craft a mutually agreeable final resolution to this issue, one that complies with U.S. trade commitments in order to avoid future upheavals. The organizations urged members of Congress to support this process and approve any resulting proposal from the negotiations between the U.S. and Mexican governments.