WASHINGTON — Representatives of three members of the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs today called on the Obama administration to quickly come up with a new cross border program to stop the drain of jobs from the U.S. and lost revenue from exports to Mexico as a result of the retaliatory tariff.
“Mexico is the second largest U.S. export market by a large margin and the price paid by U.S. workers, farmers and ranchers has already been too high,” John Murphy, vice president of international policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told reporters in a conference call one day-before the anniversary of the vote by Congress that killed the Mexico truck pilot project.
The alliance is a group of U.S. manufacturers, companies and agricultural interests united in its effort to save the tens of thousands of U.S. jobs put at risk by the U.S. failure to meet its commitment under NAFTA to permit cross border trucking, Murphy said.
Murphy said the alliance cheered President Barack Obama’s goal to double U.S. exports.
“We’d love to double U.S. exports, not cut them in half,” Murphy said, adding that the alliance had also been cheered by (1) the fact that the 2010 appropriations bill did not forbid a cross border program, (2) a letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk by 56 lawmakers urging a quick solution to the cross border issue, and (3) LaHood’s announcement March 4 to a Senate subcommittee that the administration was “very near” announcing a new proposal.
“That’s great, but we can’t wait and wait and wait,” Murphy said. “On trade, when we stand still, we fall behind. The alliance urges the U.S. government to urgently resolve this matter before more U.S. jobs are put in jeopardy.”
The DOT did not respond to a request for comment concerning Murphy’s statement.
Murphy was joined at the news conference by John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO, National Potato Council, and Doug Goudie, director of international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
“Specifically what we find in potatoes is that basically in the time from April to December, U.S. exports of processed frozen potatoes to Mexico have fallen by 50 percent in value,” Keeling said. “And, at that same time, Canadian exports have risen by almost an identical amount. In the Pacific Northwest, one of the major frozen processors in the last 10 days has closed a specific line. This is not completely attributable to Mexico, but probably 90 percent. Some of it is just the economic situation. But what you have is a situation where even in a relatively small industry like potatoes the impact of these tariffs is causing a loss of jobs in the United States and make the economic situation even worse.”
Keeling said that while frozen potatoes exported from Canada in 2009 were grown in the U.S., this year those potatoes would be grown in Canada, causing an additional loss of jobs and revenue.
Goudie said NAM had done some significant economic analysis in the last year found that 65 percent of the total products hit by value were manufactured products.
There are about 16,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. that have either been lost or are at risk of being lost and about $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion worth of manufacturing exports have been impacted, he said.
“This [the tariff] has hit wide range targets,” Goudie said. “Chemicals, paper and printed products in particular have been hard hit. Personal care products, machinery, dog and cat food — believe it or not is one of the largest exports on this list — have also been hit hard.”
Both Keeling and Goudie noted that while many interests impacted by the tariff had chosen to absorb the additional costs in 2009; that likely wouldn’t happen this year.
“Some of these costs (of the tariff) have been hidden, but are not going to be hidden much longer,” Goudie said. “Some companies have chosen to eat the tariffs essentially in order to maintain their market share. We have heard from a number of our largest companies and a great many small ones that as this one year anniversary comes up, their business model shows they cannot continue to do this. And that’s going to take the pain from the bottom line to the unemployment line at a time when we don’t need to do that.”
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.