OOIDA: Threat of Mexico blocking trade with U.S. unsubstantiated

| 12/20/2007

On the eve of final passage of the omnibus appropriations bill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials said if funding for the cross-border trucking program is cut, Mexico might limit imports of some U.S. agriculture products.

The fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations bill includes a provision that cuts off funding from the cross-border trucking program with Mexico.

In the days and literally hours leading up to the bills final passage in Congress, a lobbyist with the Chamber began telling various news outlets that Mexico is considering limiting trade with the U.S. if the funding of the cross-border program was cut.

“We learned that the Mexican government has recently been undertaking an exercise to estimate the impact of retaliating against the U.S. if this pilot program is halted,” Janet Kavinoky, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyist who focuses on transportation legislation, told Copley News Service.

“Mexico will retaliate by not allowing exports of U.S. pork, rice and possibly other products – because we’re violating NAFTA.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a big proponent of the cross-border program.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said he suspects that story was a plant by supporters of the cross-border program and that it amounts to little more than unsubstantiated rumors. He pointed out that the Mexican government itself has not signaled that it would circumvent the law.

The mere mention of limiting trade has already drawn fire from Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin.

“Any disagreements over trucking should be kept to that subject and not spill over into interfering with agricultural trade,” Harkin said in a statement. “Trade actions can be taken, but they are supposed to stand on their own merit, not serve as a form of retaliation.”

– By Jami Jones, senior editor