Jan 06 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement in response the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) release of a draft proposal for a new cross-border truck demonstration program with Mexico.
“I appreciate the Transportation Department taking this important step towards solving a serious problem for Washington state agriculture,” said Senator Cantwell. “The current tariffs are harming our potato, apple, and pear producers, and we are depending on the administration to work quickly and forcefully to convince Mexico to remove the barriers it is imposing on our agricultural exports. I look forward to reviewing full details of the proposal and working with Transportation Secretary LaHood and United States Trade Representative Kirk to push for the withdrawal of these harmful tariffs.”
In April 2009, Cantwell sent a letter to President Obama requesting he discuss the issue with the President of Mexico. 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 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].
The fiscal year 2009 Omnibus appropriations bill prohibited the DOT from expending funds on a program to allow Mexican trucks into the United States, in violation of the requirement to allow Mexican trucks into the U.S. negotiated as part of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When the pilot program allowing Mexican trucks in the United States ended, Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on 89 U.S products, including pears and potatoes, and those tariffs have since been rotated to include apples, certain cheese products, and a variety of other agricultural items.