More than 150 industrial giants have called on Washington to end a multi-billion-dollar trade dispute over Mexican truckers entering the U.S. In a joint letter released on April 9, Wal-Mart Stores, General Electric and the American Farm Bureau Federation were among those who urged President Barack Obama "to work expeditiously" to end the dispute which has resulted in billions of dollars in tariffs being slapped on U.S. goods.
U.S. officials in March canceled a program that allowed some Mexican truckers to operate in the U.S., violating a section of the North American Free Trade Agreement designed to opened cross-border trucking years ago.
Mexico in turn slapped tariffs on U.S. products for some $2.4 billion, which they say is equal the trade lost by the trucks no longer allowed north of the border.
The letter urges Obama to "ensure the United States is upholding its bilateral trade obligations with Mexico," and notes that Mexico's retaliation measures "have the potential to shut out the targeted U.S .products providing an opportunity for our foreign competitors to fill that void."
The retaliation "puts over 12,000 agricultural and 14,000 manufacturing jobs at risk," the letter said.
"The retaliation is already impacting the ability of a broad range of U.S. goods to compete in the Mexican market, from potatoes and sunscreen to paper and dishwashers," the letter read.
NAFTA, one of the world's largest trade pacts, between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, came into effect on January 1, 1994.
As Obama prepares for the mid-April Summit of the Americas on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, "it will be critical for him to lead by example and demonstrate to our trading partners that the United States lives by its word," said Chuck Dittrich, a top official with the National Foreign Trade Council.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009