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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him move forward with a plan to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state agricultural industry after last week’s meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. During the meeting, the two presidents discussed the tariffs Mexico has placed on U.S. products. Mexico has targeted eighty-seven Washington state products in this dispute and hundreds of jobs have been lost.

“Given the recent visit by Mexican President Felipe Calderon last week, I believe now is the time to take the next step forward.” Senator Murray wrote in her letter to President Obama. “I have discussed this issue with you, your administration, and the previous administration and believe that after the visit by President Calderon a path forward is available.”

Prior to the meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Calderon, Senator Murray sent a President a letter urging him to use his meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon as an opportunity to work to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state farmers and families.  She has also spoken with senior White House officials to reemphasize that point.

Earlier this month, Senator Murray met with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan to discuss the impact of Mexican tariffs on Washington state families, jobs, and agriculture industry. Murray urged the Mexican government to end the retaliatory tariffs that are harming Washington state families, and to use Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. as an opportunity to resolve the differences.

In early March, at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray pushed Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to move faster on a plan to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico, urging him to resolve the situation to save American jobs while ensuring the safety of the public at large.

The full text of the letter appears below:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am following up on my May 18, 2010 letter regarding Mexican trucks.  Given the recent visit by Mexican President Felipe Calderon last week, I believe now is the time to take the next step forward.  I have discussed this issue with you, your administration, and the previous administration and believe that after the visit by President Calderon a path forward is available. 

The ongoing heavy tariffs imposed on eighty-seven Washington products have exacerbated economic hardships in my state.  Washington farmers specifically have been pushed from an already difficult climate into a far worse economic position.  In the last year, the Mexican tariff on potatoes has caused U.S. frozen potato shipments to Mexico to decline by 50 percent while shipments of frozen potatoes from Canada to Mexico have increased by 60 percent.  In practical terms this means a loss of over $14 million worth of Washington frozen potato exports since April 2009 and several hundred Washington state jobs.  The potato industry is not alone.  Washington state pear exports to Mexico dropped by 56 percent between 2008 and 2009 due to this tariff, a loss of over $8 million.  Unless action is taken immediately there is a good chance that this shift in exports will lead to continued job losses and have a long-term impact on our economy. 

Mr. President, tens of thousands of jobs are supported by the Washington state potato and pear industries and these represent only two of the eighty-seven products imperiled under tariffs unfairly aimed at my constituents.  I urge you to resolve the dispute with Mexico and bring relief to Washington state farmers and the Washington state economy.  

Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator