U.S. President Barack Obama's relationship with the Mexican government got off to a rocky start, with a trade dispute one of the early items on the bilateral agenda, according to a report by SourceMex.
Mexico imposed tariffs on various U.S. products after the U.S. Congress voted to remove funding for a pilot program allowing Mexican truck drivers to haul cargo in the U.S. Poultry products were not affected by the new tariffs.
Obama's efforts to reach out to Mexico have been derailed, at least temporarily, by the dispute regarding U.S. access to Mexican truck drivers. The U.S. Senate's decision to withdraw funding for the program, initiated by former President George W. Bush, drew angry reactions from Mexican officials, who threatened retaliation.
On March 16, the Calderon government made good on the threat by announcing new tariffs on 89 agricultural and industrial products from 40 U.S. states. The value of the products – which range from fruit juices, beer and deodorant to Christmas trees – is estimated at about $2.4 billion annually. In contrast, U.S. exports to Mexico totaled $151 billion in 2008.
The decision spared some of the major companies that export to Mexico, including Ford Motor Co. and Tyson Foods. The new tariffs will range from 10% to 40%, according to the federal registry.
These are the most widespread sanctions that Mexico has imposed on U.S. products since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994.