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Deal reduces Mexican tariffs on U.S. goods

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. and Mexican governments have reached a deal that will benefit U.S. farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on the agreement signed yesterday by Mexico and the United States to resolve the cross-border long-haul trucking dispute:

"The agreement signed today (yesterday) between the governments of Mexico and the United States to resolve this dispute is a major win for U.S. agriculture," said Vilsack.

Under terms of the deal, starting tomorrow, Friday, Mexico will reduce its existing tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods by 50 percent. The remaining 50 percent will be suspended within five business days from the date on which the first Mexican carrier receives authorization to cross the U.S. border under the new program.

"Potentially, we're looking at a total lifting of the punitive tariffs in as little as 45 days," Vilsack said. "Mexican carriers participating in the program are subject to certain requirements which will not allow them to haul domestic cargo between points within the United States. That creates additional opportunities for American businesses and workers."

The border trucking/export dispute has cost U.S. businesses more than $2 billion, Vilsack estimates.

Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell praised the deal in separate announcements.

"The Mexican tariffs on potatoes, pears, apples and other food goods took a toll on Washington state's agriculture industry," Cantwell said. "Since the tariffs have been in place, state exports have dropped by at least $82 million."

Cantwell added, "The deal between the United States and Mexico to end these harmful tariffs on our agricultural exports is great news for Washington state farmers. With the removal of these barriers, Washington farmers will be better able to compete fairly in the Mexican market."

Murray called on the Mexican government to act sooner, not later, in completely removing the tariffs, instead of the 45 days it is expected to take for 100 percent of the tariffs to go away.

"Now that the agreement is signed, there is no reason why farmers and growers in my home state of Washington should have to wait any longer. They have nothing to do with this dispute, and it is deeply unfair that they continue to be punished for it," Murray said. "So I call on the Mexican government to act in good faith, not wait a day longer, and completely end these devastating tariffs once and for all."

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