Ag interests, including growers, packers and freight movers are relieved by the June 6 agreement with Mexico allowing resumption of a cross-border trucking program between from the U.S., resulting in a reduction of tariffs on certain products by as much as 50%
"For too long this dispute has been allowed to fester and a commitment by both governments to abide by this agreement is an enormous step in the right direction," says National Potato Council President Justin Dagen.
"The potato farmers of the United States applaud President Obama in his efforts to make sure the United States is living up to its trade obligations and look forward to the permanent resolution of the issue and complete elimination of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. frozen potato exports into Mexico.
"We intend to work closely with the Administration and Congress to defeat any efforts in Congress to interfere with this important step forward."
Since March 2009, U.S. potato growers have seen revenues from frozen potato exports to Mexico decline by more than $70 million – about half of the former level – notes Dagen.
The Washington State Potato Commission and most of the Washington Congressional delegation have worked to seek a resolution to the situation. Mexico placed tariffs ranging from 5%-25% on 99 U.S. products such as pork, apples, Christmas trees and frozen potato products in 2009 when the U.S. violated terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement by banning Mexican trucks from operating in the U.S.
The remaining 50% of duties will be lifted when the first Mexican carrier is granted U.S. operating authority. To gain that authority, Mexican truckers will have to live up to U.S. safety and emissions standards. The first trucks enrolled in the program could operate within the U.S. as early as the end of August, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.