U.S., Mexico Reach Deal on Trade Dispute

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President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have reached a deal that could end a 20-year trade dispute.

The phased-in agreement lets Mexican long-haul carriers enter the U.S. with their goods, provided that the trucks meet U.S. safety standards.

Both countries were given this authority under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, but the U.S. has refused to allow Mexican trucks access amid concerns over their ability to meet stringent U.S. safety and environmental rules.

The deal also calls for Mexico to suspend tariffs on U.S. goods going into that country.

"I look forward to consulting with Congress and moving forward in a way that strengthens the safety of cross-border trucking, lifts tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. goods, expands our exports to Mexico, and creates jobs on both sides of the border," Obama said.

Negotiating teams are still working out the details but are expected to send an agreement to Congress this spring.

News of a pending agreement won Obama praise from some in the business community, who have argued that the delay in opening cross-border trucking and the resulting tariffs have cost Americans jobs.

Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said finalizing a deal between the U.S. and Mexico would be "a major step toward providing certainty to trucking companies and shippers throughout North America."

Johnson said it was important for the U.S. and Mexico to lower tensions ahead of Obama's trip to Latin America later this month. The president is scheduled to visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador.

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