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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to President Barack Obama 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 agricultural industry. Mexico has targeted eighty-seven Washington state products in this dispute and hundreds of jobs have been lost.

“As you know, Mexico is a critical market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but unfortunately the trade dispute regarding trucks has resulted in heavy tariffs on a number of U.S. products, including agricultural products grown and processed in Washington state,” Murray wrote in her letter to Obama. “Many of these jobs are on the verge of migrating to Canada and, unless we take action immediately, will not return to the United States even with a negotiated settlement at a future date.  And the situation worsens with each passing growing season… I urge you to quickly resolve the on-going dispute with Mexico and bring needed relief to an important sector of the Washington state and American economy.”

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
1600Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon this week, I urge you to use this opportunity to resolve the dispute regarding Mexican trucks.  I have raised this issue with you and your Administration, as well as the previous administration, on numerous occasions and believe the time is now to find a practicable solution that maintains the safety of our roadways while also maintaining our important trade relationship with Mexico.

As you know, Mexico is a critical market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but unfortunately the trade dispute regarding trucks has resulted in heavy tariffs on a number of U.S. products, including agricultural products grown and processed in Washington state.  Mexico targets eighty-seven other Washington products, of which potatoes, pears and cherries are the three largest in terms of volume of trade.  The frozen potato industry alone has lost more than $31 million worth of export business since April 2009 and hundreds of jobs.  Many of these jobs are on the verge of migrating to Canada and, unless we take action immediately, will not return to the United States even with a negotiated settlement at a future date.  And the situation worsens with each passing growing season.

Mr. President, I continue to support the Administration’s efforts to forge close strategic relationships with Mexico in areas of common interests.  I hope we can resolve this issue, which is unfairly impacting my constituents, due to the high tariffs that have been placed on Washington products such as potatoes, pears and cherries. 

Again, I urge you to quickly resolve the on-going dispute with Mexico and bring needed relief to an important sector of the Washington state and American economy. 

Sincerely, 

Patty Murray
U.S. Senator