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Tariffs on US goods over trucking ban

world Updated: Aug 17, 2010 09:32 IST

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Mexico said on Monday it will increase tariffs on a total of 99 US products to pressure Washington to lift a ban on Mexican cargo trucks entering the United States.

Last year, Mexico added tariffs to 89 products after the US canceled a pilot program that allowed some Mexican trucks to transport goods into the United State.

The Economy Department said the latest step will affect about $2.5 billion worth of trade involving agricultural and industrial products from 43 US states. It said the list of products would be released later this week.

The department said the suspension of the pilot program violated the North American Free Trade Agreement, in which the United States agreed to open its roads to Mexican trucks.

"We have to act firmly so we can sensitize US authorities about the urgent need to open that sector, which transport 70 percent of the commercial volume between both countries," Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said in the statement.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk regretted Mexico's decision and said the Obama administration is committed to resolving the dispute.

"Mexico is an important US export market and President Obama understands the economic pain that these tariffs cause for American farmers, companies and workers," Kirk said in a statement. A pilot program begun in 2007 that allowed a few Mexican trucks beyond a border buffer zone ended last week when Obama signed a sweeping bill that barred spending on it.

The trucking program is one of the last and largest disputes between the US and Mexico involving 1994 NAFTA accords. In 2001, Mexico took the case before a dispute-resolution panel, which recommended that the United States comply with the program and allow Mexican trucks within its borders.