Friday, March 4, 2011

Driving For A Solution

I am very encouraged to hear we are one step closer to reestablishing a cross-border trucking program with Mexico and the retaliatory tariffs on many U.S. agriculture products may soon be lifted. President Obama and President Calderón announced today that significant progress has been made in negotiations AND a resolution is in sight. The White House states the agreement is, “built on the highest safety standards that will authorize both Mexican and United States long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under NAFTA.”

Mexico has indicated it will suspend its retaliatory tariffs through a 50 percent reduction at the signing of the agreement and suspend the remaining 50 percent when the first Mexican carrier is approved to participate in the program. Once the program is normalized, Mexico will terminate all current tariffs. For too long, Texas farmers and ranchers have paid a heavy price for broken negotiations by Washington.

In my meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Texas agriculture industry officials last week, agreement was unanimous on the importance of trade to our broader economy. I commend Ambassador Kirk for working to move this deal forward. Texas farmers and ranchers export more of their products to Mexico than anywhere else. A strong trade relationship with Mexico is critical to the viability of agriculture in our great state.

The United States Department of Transportation and USTR will seek Congressional support and allow for a period of public comment once the proposed agreement is agreed upon as early as this Spring.

The proposal will allow Texas farmers and ranchers to sell their products on a fair playing field. And that's all we ask for, because Texans can go toe to toe with any else and come out on top.

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