Mexico City – A Mexican trucking company became the first to receive approval from the United States to operate beyond a narrow border strip, prompting Mexico to announce it will lift retaliatory tariffs imposed after Washington canceled a cross-border cargo transport program in 2009.
Monterrey-based Transportes Olympic received the permit from the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the economy ministry said in a statement Friday.
The Mexican company passed a safety audit that was conducted by FMCSA as part of a bilateral agreement reached in March and signed by President Barack Obama and Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon on July 6.
The permit issued to Transportes Olympic "is an additional step by the United States toward fulfilling commitments established in the North American Free Trade Agreement and will contribute to solving a dispute over international cargo transport services," the ministry said.
The United States violated the terms of that 1994 treaty two years ago when it canceled a pilot program that had allowed Mexican trucks to operate beyond a 25-mile commercial zone along the border.
Mexico retaliated by slapping tariffs on dozens of U.S. goods.
Mexican authorities on July 8 suspended 50 percent of the tariffs imposed on 99 U.S. products and pledged to eliminate the remaining half once the first trucking firm was authorized to operate freely in U.S. territory.
"Mexico will proceed to eliminate (the remaining tariffs) within the next five working days," the ministry said.
Under the new program, Mexican trucking companies "will be able to show once again they meet all safety requirements for operating in the United States and that their performance is as good or better than that of their counterparts in that country, as several U.S. government studies have shown," the economy ministry said.
Bilateral cargo shipments are valued at nearly $400 billion annually, with trucks transporting roughly 70 percent of the total.
"The possibility of offering door-to-door delivery service for international cargo will contribute to achieving a more modern, agile and efficient border," the ministry said.