BY CHRONICLE STAFF
As the United States is suffering from its worst economic crisis in recent times, a decision by U.S. lawmakers to stop a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks restricted entry into the United States is putting at risk 26,000 jobs, according to an open letter to President Barack Obama from 141 companies and organizations.
Since the move by the U.S. lawmakers violated the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico slapped tariffs on 90 U.S. goods. "Over $1.5 billion in U.S. manufactured products and $900 million in U.S. agriculture products are impacted by the retaliatory tariffs," the letter says. "The retaliation puts over 12,000 agricultural and 14,000 manufacturing jobs at risk."
The signatories urge Obama to work with Congress and quickly resolve the Mexican trucking issue to end retaliatory tariffs. "Until this issue is resolved, Mexico's retaliation will continue to economically harm U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service providers and those who work in these industries," the letter says. "This is something our country cannot afford."
The letter is signed by such companies as Archer Daniels Midland, Campbell Soup, Cargill, Caterpillar, Bunge, General Electric, General Mills, Mars, Procter & Gamble, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Wal-Mart. Organizations that signed the letter include the Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Foreign Trade Council, US Chamber of Commerce, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel.
"As the President prepares for the Summit of the Americas in a couple of weeks, it will be critical for him to lead by example and demonstrate to our trading partners that the United States lives by its word," NFTC Vice President for Regional Trade Initiatives Chuck Dittrich said in a statement today. “He will have an important opportunity to relate to other leaders in the Western Hemisphere the United States' commitment to expanding global trade and investment ties."
Obama is scheduled to attend the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, which will gather all heads of states in the Western Hemisphere except for Cuban president Raul Castro.
The U.S. Congress last month vote to to stop a temporary truck program initiated by the Bush Administration in April 2007. That program came after years of delay as a result of opposition from U.S. lawmakers and unions. NAFTA called for the United States to permit Mexican trucks first in the border states in December 1995 and then throughout the country in January 2000. In February 2001, a NAFTA arbitration panel ruled that the U.S. delay was illegal.
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