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Mexico Tariffs Hit A Diverse List Of U. S. Goods

Mexico said March 18 it was imposing higher tariffs totalling $2.4 billion on a wide list of U. S. imports ranging from strawberries to Christmas trees after Washington banned Mexican trucks from U. S. roads.

The official government gazette said the new tariffs, which will range from 10 per cent to 45 per cent, were effective March 19.

Mexico said the U. S. ban on its trucks violates the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

To avoid raising prices for local consumers, the Mexican government excluded major staples like rice, corn, wheat and meat products and instead focused on imports that could affect as many U. S. states as possible without hurting Mexican manufacturers.

The list of 90 imports, estimated by the Mexican government to be worth $2.4 billion a year, included sunglasses, toilet paper, pet food, ornaments, soy sauce, Christmas trees and produce such as strawberries, pears and onions.

Mexico, the United States’ No. 3 trade partner, is angry the U. S. Congress scrapped a pilot program this month that allowed Mexican trucks to haul goods deep into the United States.

Some U. S. lawmakers and truck driver unions say Mexican trucks do not meet U. S. safety standards, a charge Mexico denies.

Mexico said it imposed the sanctions according to NAFTA rules since the two countries have not been able to resolve the dispute simmering since 2001.

Only about 1.5 per cent of U. S. exports to Mexico are affected by the new rules but trade experts say the flap will be the first real test of President Barack Obama’s trade strategy.

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