The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised the Obama administration for reaching an agreement in principle with Mexico to resolve a trade impasse over allowing Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States.

The trucking dispute led to Mexico imposing tariffs on a host of U.S. products, including pork. In August, Mexico placed a 5% tariff on U.S. bone-in hams and 20% on cooked pork skins in retaliation for the United States’ failure to comply with the trucking provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The provision was set to become effective in December 1995.

The NPPC has long urged the Obama administration to resolve this trucking issue as quickly as possible, which erupted in March 2009 when Mexico imposed higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion of U.S. goods after Congress refused to renew funding for a pilot program that let a limited number of Mexican trucking companies haul freight beyond a 25-mile U.S. commercial zone.

“This is great news for the U.S. pork industry, as well as for other sectors affected by Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs,” says NPPC President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, IA. “Pork producers have been hurt by this retaliation.

“So we’re grateful to President Obama, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk for their efforts in reaching this agreement with Mexico. We’re also grateful to Mexican President Calderon and his administration for their efforts on this issue.”

NPPC cautions the trade fracas won’t be completely resolved until the United States is in full compliance with its NAFTA obligation on trucking. Mexico has agreed to suspend its retaliatory tariffs. Opponents charged there were safety issues with Mexican trucks, but data collected as part of the pilot program demonstrated the safety of Mexican trucks, which must meet U.S. standards.

“I have no doubt the data generated under the new agreement will show that Mexican trucks are safe,” Carney says. “It is imperative that Congress support this agreement. Any attempt to stop or otherwise undermine the agreement will invite Mexico to reinstate retaliatory duties on pork and other products, causing the United States to lose exports and jobs.”

Mexico is the second-largest market for the U.S. pork industry, which shipped $986 million of pork south of the border in 2010.