AFFI, United Fresh Produce hail cross-border agreement

March 8, 2011
Both the American Frozen Food Institute and the United Fresh Produce Association issued statements commending a joint agreement announced by President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón to end a lengthy cross-border trucking dispute.

Both the American Frozen Food Institute and the United Fresh Produce Association issued statements commending a joint agreement announced by President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón to end a lengthy cross-border trucking dispute. The dispute has resulted in various US frozen food exports, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, being subject to punitive Mexican retaliatory tariffs.

Kraig R Naasz, president and chief executive officer of AFFI, issued this statement:

“AFFI has long engaged with federal policymakers to help end the protracted US-Mexican trucking dispute, which has wreaked economic havoc on US exporters of frozen potato products, frozen sweet corn, and frozen ham in the form of lost jobs and lost market access.

“The agreement announced during President Calderón’s visit to Washington DC represents a fair and equitable solution that will bring the United States into compliance with its international trade commitments and begin repairing the substantial economic harm suffered by frozen food producers.

“AFFI is committed to working with the White House and Congress to ensure the deal is fully implemented as soon as possible so that we can resume normal trade with Mexico and offer much needed relief to US frozen food producers.”

The United Fresh Produce Association also voiced its approval of the agreement. Robert Guenther, senior vice-president of public policy, released this statement:

“We are extremely pleased to see what appears to be light at the end of the very long tunnel that was this trade standoff. The retaliatory tariffs placed on fruit and vegetable shipments had a significantly deleterious effect on our members that export to Mexico, and we appreciate the business foresight of Presidents Obama and Calderon for moving toward a concrete and lasting resolution. This is an issue on which United Fresh and our membership on both sides of the border have worked extensively to resolve. We applaud the continued dedication of our members, our allies on Capitol Hill, and our Mexican counterparts, and look forward to providing comments on the proposed agreement to ensure that the final version is one that fosters the continued growth of fresh produce trade between our countries.”

The joint agreement creates a reciprocal, phased-in program that permits Mexican and US long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico will reduce its penalty tariffs by 50% when the settlement is formally signed by both nations and will remove all remaining retaliatory tariffs after the first US authorization allowing a Mexican carrier to engage in cross-border operations.

Mexico imposed a 20% tariff on US frozen potato products in 2009 after the United States canceled a cross-border trucking pilot program, costing US exporters more than $33 million in lost revenue. Though that tariff was reduced to 5% in August 2010, Mexico expanded its tariff retaliation list to include imports of US frozen sweet corn and frozen ham.

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