The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and 36 state pork producer groups are urging President Obama to work with Congress and the Mexican government to quickly resolve the dispute over allowing Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States.

Last month Mexico added pork to the list of U.S. products it is retaliating against for the U.S. failure to live up to its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the trucking issue. Mexico placed a 5% tariff on most U.S. pork imports.

“The tariff applied to pork will have the effect of placing our products at a price disadvantage vis a vis pork produced in Mexico and imports from Canada and Chile, two pork-producing nations that continue to benefit from zero tariffs in Mexico under their own free trade agreements,” the pork producer organizations said in a letter sent yesterday to the president.

Mexico took action on the trucking issue for the second time after the Obama administration failed to present a proposal to resolve the issue. In March 2009, Mexico placed tariffs on $2.4 billion of U.S. products after the U.S. Congress failed to renew a pilot program that allowed a limited number of Mexican trucks to haul freight into the United States beyond a 25-mile commercial zone.

A NAFTA dispute-settlement panel ruled in February 2001 that excluding Mexican trucks violated U.S. obligations under the trade deal, and gave Mexico the right to retaliate.

The NPPC letter pointed out that since 1993 – the year before NAFTA was implemented – U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico have increased by 257%, with pork exports growing by 580%. Mexico is the second-largest market for U.S. pork; the industry shipped $762 million of pork there in 2009.

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