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U.S. Trade Representative Responds to Commissioner Staples

10/22/2009

On March 16, Mexico announced it would place significant tariffs on nearly 100 U.S. agricultural and manufactured exports. These tariffs, affecting nearly $2.4 billion worth of U.S. goods, were enacted as retaliation for the U.S. Congress' decision to halt a NAFTA-mandated cross-border trucking agreement which should have been implemented by 2000, but was delayed by the administration in Washington at that time. The Mexican government says it will continue to place these tariffs on U.S. products until the federal government meets its NAFTA commitment.

On March 19, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples wrote a letter to President Barack Obama requesting he instruct his staff to quickly find a resolution as the tariffs have a disproportionate impact on Texas products. On September 15, Commissioner Staples received a response from Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative. He informed the Texas Department of Agriculture that President Obama has tasked Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with reaching a compromise policy that would ease the safety concerns of Congress while meeting the requirements of the NAFTA agreement.

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