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Mexican trucks to ply US highways? Obama is ready to roll.

President Obama on Thursday laid out a plan to allow trucks from Mexico to carry goods into America. Concern about safety of Mexican trucks have nixed such transport for decades.

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President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Felipe Calderón leave the stage after their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 3.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Mexican trucks may soon be rolling along US highways – especially along the US-Mexico border – if a deal President Obama announced Thursday to resolve a long-standing dispute fares better than previous proposals.

With Mexican President Felipe Calderón at his side at the White House, Mr. Obama announced the proposed solution to a standoff that has pitted US truckers against business interests since before the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 1994. Under NAFTA, the border was to be opened to crossborder trucking, but concerns about the safety of Mexican trucks blocked the provision’s implementation.

Under the deal, which still faces congressional and local scrutiny, the US would allow in Mexican trucks that comply with stringent safety standards. In return, Mexico would lift tariffs it imposed on US goods in retaliation for flouting the NAFTA provision. The Mexican trucks would carry recorders for verifying that they transported crossborder shipments and did not act as domestic transporters on the US side.

The trucking deal came during an Obama-Calderón meeting that was largely about atmospherics – essentially turning down the heat on a bilateral relationship that had reached the boiling point in recent weeks.

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