Oct 14 2011
Cross-border permit approval by U.S. signifies end to Mexican tariffs on goods important to WA economy, including apples, grapes, pears, cherries, and potatoes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation approved the first cross-border permit for a Mexican trucking company. The move marks the final step in an agreement struck in March and signed in July between the two countries for Mexico to fully lift tariffs on 99 U.S. goods, including apples, grapes, pears, cherries, and potatoes. Mexico has five days to eliminate all tariffs.
The Mexican tariffs took a toll on Washington state’s agriculture industry. Since the tariffs have been in place, state exports have dropped by at least $82 million, according to the Washington Department of Commerce. Washington farmers have seen a $70 million decline in potato exports, a $39 million drop in pear exports and $2 million declines in both cherry and apricot exports.
“Today, Washington farmers can breathe a sigh of relief,” Cantwell said. “After years of work, these retaliatory tariffs have finally been lifted. Today marks the final step in a long process.”
“We’re glad that the two sides were able to work together to see this deal through,” Cantwell continued. “Since the dispute started, our state’s exports have dropped by more than $82 million. For too long Washington’s farmers were forced to deal with tariffs that arose from a disagreement they weren’t involved in. Now, Washington farmers can compete more fairly in the Mexican market and continue to create jobs for our agricultural economy.”
Cantwell has long fought to resolve the Mexican trucks dispute and to improve Washington farmers’ access to the Mexican market. In January 2011, Cantwell applauded the Department of Transportation’s release of a draft proposal for a new cross-border truck demonstration. In March 2010, Cantwell questioned U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on the administration’s plan for assistance on the issue [questioning starts at 4:19]. She also led a letter to President Obama in September 2009, explaining the disproportionate impact the tariffs are having on Northwest farmers and businesses. In April 2009, Cantwell sent a letter to President Obama requesting he discuss the issue with the President of Mexico.