Mexico says it will place tariffs on 90 US agricultural and industrial products valued at $2.4 billion.
In doing so, Mexico is simultaneously raising the stakes in the decade-long dispute and creating a diplomatic stumbling block for President Obama’s new administration.
“It is a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a case of protectionism, at a time when the Obama administration is messaging to the rest of the world not to succumb to the temptations of protectionism as a way to trigger a recovery,” said Armand Peschard-Sverdup, a Mexico expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“It’s kind of mixed messaging,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ ”
In a statement released late Monday, Mexican Commerce Minister Gerardo Ruiz Mateos said the products – agricultural and industrial goods – come from 40 different US states and their total commercial value in 2007 was $2.4 billion. The products were not further identified in the statement.
The tariffs are allowed under NAFTA, since the US has not honored its requirement under the treaty to allow Mexican trucks to operate on US highways.