The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has praised the U.S. and Mexican governments for following through on resolving a trade dispute over trucking. Mexico on Friday lifted tariffs on U.S. exports, including pork, and the U.S. government last week granted the first permit to a Mexican trucking firm to haul goods into the United States.

The two governments in July signed an agreement resolving the trucking issue, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) crafting a cross-border trucking program and the Mexican government cutting the retaliatory tariffs by 50%. The remaining tariffs were suspended Friday after DOT issued the trucking permit.

“America’s pork producers are very pleased that the United States issued the first Mexican trucking permit, which has led to the Mexican government removing the remaining retaliatory tariffs on our products,” says NPPC President Doug Wolf, a producer from Lancaster, WI. “Mexico is a very important market for the U.S. pork industry and for many other sectors. More than six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.”

The long-standing dispute between the nations was over a provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The trucking provision was set to become effective in December 1995, but the United States failed to abide by it. Mexico imposed tariffs on 89 U.S. products in March 2009, after Congress failed to renew a two-year-old pilot program that allowed a limited number of Mexican trucks into the United States. Mexico added products, including pork, in August 2010 after the Obama administration failed to present a proposal for resolving the trucking dispute.

“It is important that the Unites States abides by its NAFTA obligations and does not yield to protectionist forces,” Wolf says. “U.S. exports and American jobs are at stake.”

Mexico is the second-largest market for the U.S. pork industry, which shipped $986 million of pork south of the border in 2010. Since 1993 – the year before NAFTA was implemented – U.S. pork exports to Mexico have increased by 780%.