Mexico Slaps New Tariffs Against US Truck Ban

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/17/2010 01:08:00 AM
Like other FTAs, the North American Free Trade Agreement is supposed to cover the free movement of goods, services, and labour, is it not? Apparently, the US still has trouble coming to terms with this notion. Sometime ago, I made a detailed post early last year about how "driving while Mexican" was banned Stateside for truckers coming from south of the border due to specious safety concerns. To pacify the Teamsters union, then-President Bill Clinton passed legislation in 1995 banning Mexican long-haul trucking services from entering the US. Aside from there being no evidence that Mexican truckers had worse safety record--they actually had better ones while plying their trade in the US--these frankly discriminatory rules have made American consumers pay more for the unnecessary process of having Mexican trucks unload goods at the border to be taken onward by US ones. Not only is time wasted doing so, but the costs of this rigmarole are passed on to American consumers.

Mexico challenged and won a ruling against the US at NAFTA's dispute settlement mechanism. Still, the US has been recalcitrant in striking down the offending ruling. The source of recent Mexican discontent was the discontinuation of a pilot programme allowing Mexican truckers to traverse the US as per the ruling. Up to now, the US has not addressed this issue with any vigour, prompting Mexico to retaliate by slapping tariffs on an even wider range of goods after imposing a number of them last year. From Dow Jones:
Mexico plans to add additional goods to a list of U.S. imports that face retaliatory tariffs in a long-standing dispute over access of Mexican trucks to the U.S. highways, Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said Monday. At a news conference, Mr. Ferrari said Mexico will add 26 products to the original list of 89 and remove 16, bringing the total from 43 states to 99 goods with an estimated annual value of $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion.

Mexico imposed the tariffs in 2009 after the U.S. Congress removed funding for an 18-month-old pilot project to allow Mexican trucks into the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Opposition from U.S. truckers has kept Mexican vehicles out of the U.S., even though access is included under the terms of the Nafta. Mr. Ferrari said that goods in question will be published this week in the government's Official Gazette, but declined to identify them.
There have been weak suggestions that the ban would be lifted, but they have not come to pass, culminating in yet more tariffs to be announced soon. Is it sheer contempt for its trading partners that makes the US blind to their concerns, or is it simply a matter of forgetting to address trade matters given more pressing problems Stateside? Either way, it certainly doesn't look like a page taken from how to win friends and influence people.