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Obama to address U.S.-Mexico truck tiff

Dan Grech Aug 7, 2009
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KAI RYSSDAL:President Obama will be in Mexico this weekend. He and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts will talk North American politics and economics Sunday and Monday. Yes I grant you those are pretty broad subject areas, could mean anything from global warming to Mexican border drug wars to immigration. And there’ll probably be some disagreements. But something else could wind up being especially tricky for President Obama: Trucks. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: Under the trade agreement NAFTA, Mexican trucks are supposed to be allowed to cross into the U.S. But groups like the Teamsters Union have convinced Congress to block Mexican trucks from U.S. highways.

Teamsters spokesman Brett Caldwell.

Brett Caldwell: Mexico has not improved their safety standards for their trucks or the requirements for their drivers. And until they do, they should not be driving on American roads.

Mexico retaliated in March by imposing tariffs on 90 U.S. products. The tariffs are designed to ratchet up political pressure on the Obama administration to solve the trucking dispute.

Chris Sabatini is with the Council of the Americas, a business trade group. He says the tariffs are hitting American farmers and manufacturers in 40 states.

Chris Sabatini: There’s been over $4 million worth of losses. It really has opened up and undercut a lot of the intended free trade provisions of NAFTA.

Right now, cargo that passes from Mexico to the U.S. has to be off-loaded, carted across the border and loaded onto another truck.

Clayton Boyce is with the American Trucking Association. He says allowing trucks to smoothly cross the border would save U.S. consumers up to $400 million a year.

Clayton Boyce: What it does is it saves fuel and it saves money by making the border crossings much more efficient.

Sunday will be the sixth meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. But the Obama administration says resolving the trucking dispute will have to wait until Congress reconvenes in the fall.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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