The United States and Mexico have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that resolves a long-haul, cross-border trucking dispute involving “retaliatory tariffs” on more than $2 billion in U.S. exports, including food and agricultural products. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the July 6, 2011, agreement will “lift tariffs and put safety first.”

Under the agreement, Mexico will immediately suspend half of the retaliatory tariffs imposed in March 2009, with the remaining 50 percent to be removed within five days of the first Mexican trucking company receiving U.S. operating authority. In return, Mexican long-haul truck drivers will be allowed to ship goods into the United States after complying with, among other things, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and electronic vehicle monitoring designed to track “hours-of-service compliance” to ensure that drivers make cross-border shipments and not “domestic cargo between points within the United States.”

According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the agreement puts the two countries on an “equal footing” under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “For U.S. farmers and ranchers, the lifting of these tariffs means jobs and fiscal relief—lifting constraints on American products, removing barriers to trade with a key trading partner, and putting Americans back to work at a time when U.S. agriculture is setting record export figures,” Vilsack said. See U.S. Department of Agriculture, DOT Press Releases, July 6, 2011.