Obama NAFTA action
may kill 17,000 US jobs
Mar 24, 2009 2:51 PM
At least 17,000 US jobs are at risk as a result of the Obama Administration’s ham-handed decision to cancel the Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Tank truck industry jobs are among those that will be lost.
Frank Vargo, NAM’s vice-president for international economic affairs, criticized the Obama Administration actions that created the trade dispute with Mexico: “Mexico is our second largest export market, and hundreds of thousands of US jobs depend on those export sales. This comes at a time when US industry can least afford lost sales and competitiveness in important global markets. This is the worst time to send a signal to our closest trading partners that the United States does not take its commitments seriously. Our government has vast experience enforcing trucking safety, and the Cross Border Trucking Program strongly indicated that Mexican motor carriers can operate safely beyond the foreign commercial zone.”
The suspended program, which allowed 26 Mexican trucking companies to operate on US highways, was renewed for two more years in August 2008 before being canceled by a provision in the $410 billion spending bill that was passed by Congress on March 11. Obama wasted no time signing that bill into law.
Mexico responded almost immediately with retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion of US agricultural and manufactured products that are exported to Mexico. Targeted products include some chemicals and processed foods that are hauled to Mexico in tank trailers.
Cross border trucking access was guaranteed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was ratified under President Bill Clinton’s administration. US-Canada trucking access was already in place, and the US was required under the treaty to grant full access to Mexican carriers by January 2000. However, that treaty provision was blocked by anti-Mexico groups in the United States.
Mexico has long protested the ban and brought the issue before a NAFTA dispute-resolution panel. In 2001, the panel ruled in Mexico’s favor. NAFTA provisions allow Mexico to introduce retaliatory tariffs equal to the amount of trade lost by the truck ban.
The Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program allowing some Mexican truck fleet access was instituted in 2007 by President George W Bush’s administration. The Mexican government notes that trucks operated by Mexican fleets entered the United States 46,000 times during the pilot program and few safety problems occurred.
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