Cantwell Applauds Plan to End Mexican Tariffs on Washington Products

Tariffs Had Hurt Washington State Agriculture Jobs, with Exports Dropping $82 Million over 2 Years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the announcement Thursday that President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have agreed on a plan to end Mexico’s 2009 retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.
The Mexican tariffs on potatoes, pears, apples, and other food goods 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 $39 million decline in potato exports, a $39 million drop in pear exports and $2 million declines in both cherry and apricot exports.
“Today’s agreement takes a major step toward removing a crushing burden on Washington state farmers,” said Senator Cantwell. “Resolving this dispute will boost Washington exports and agricultural jobs. With the removal of these barriers, Washington farmers would be better able to compete fairly in the Mexican market.”
The fiscal year 2009 Omnibus appropriations bill prohibited the Department of Transportation from expending funds on a program to allow Mexican trucks into the United States, in contravention 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.
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.