U.S. News

Clinton cites progress in Mexican trucking dispute

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday the United States and Mexico were making headway on efforts to resolve a dispute over Mexican trucks operating in the United States.

“On the trucking dispute, we are working to try to resolve it. We are making progress. We think that there will be a receptive audience in (the U.S.) Congress,” she told reporters as she flew to Mexico for a two-day visit.

Last week, Mexico imposed higher tariffs on an estimated $2.4 billion worth of goods from the United States in retaliation for a decision by Congress to end a pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the United States.

The dispute has raised trade tensions between the two neighbors at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to rally countries to work together to restore global economic growth and to resist protectionism.

The United States agreed in the North American Free Trade Agreement to allow Mexican trucks on its roads, but Congress -- citing safety concerns that Mexico says have already been addressed -- recently canceled a pilot program.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been working with other Obama administration officials and with members of Congress to craft a new program that would allow Mexican trucks to operate within the United States.

LaHood said on Wednesday he hoped to give Obama main details of that plan before the president travels to Mexico it mid-April, but it would take longer than that to win congressional approval.

“It’s not going to be done before the president goes to Mexico. What we can give the president is some ideas about what the people have told us and sort of what we’re thinking about,” LaHood told reporters in Washington.

LaHood said it was too early to give details of what the new program would look like.

“We’re trying to listen to people to find out what’s doable. And once we listen to enough folks up here (in Congress) and in the administration we’ll write it and everybody’ll know what’s in it,” he said.

Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert and Doug Palmer in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh