- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

KEEP ON TRUCKING

Mexico refused to “turn the other cheek” after a congressional decision to block Mexican commercial trucking in the United States but still permits American trucks free access to Mexico, the Mexican Embassy in Washington said Thursday.

“Mexico remains a steadfast supporter of free trade, particularly as an instrument to trigger economic growth in the midst of a global recession, and will continue to work constructively with Congress and the [Obama] administration to find a solution that will allow safe Mexican trucks onto U.S. roads under NAFTA rules,” Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said in the embassy’s latest newsletter.

He noted that the United States violated the North American Free Trade Agreement when Congress refused to fund a pilot program that would allow Mexican trucks to deliver goods in the U.S.

NAFTA, signed by President Clinton, required free access for U.S. and Mexican trucks, but Congress blocked the provision by claiming Mexican trucks were unsafe. However, the pilot program, which monitored U.S. and Mexican trucking, found Mexican trucks had better safety records than American trucks.

“The debate over safety, which is a paramount concern for U.S. and Mexican authorities alike, has been used in this instance to push a protectionist agenda, leading to a violation of the United States’ international legal commitments,” he said.

“As a result, and after more than a decade of dialogue in which Mexico has asked for nothing more than U.S. compliance with its NAFTA trucking commitments, the Mexican government could not continue to turn the other cheek. …”

Mexico retaliated by raising tariffs on nearly 90 products that account for about $2.4 billion in U.S. exports to Mexico.

EARTHQUAKE RELIEF The Italian Embassy in Washington is appealing for donations to help with relief efforts after the earthquake that ripped through central Italy on Monday.

The embassy suggested that wire transfers be made payable to the Regional Authority of Abruzzo using either of the following bank transfer codes:

• BIC: BROMITR1775

• IBAN: IT 69 L 030 0215 3000 0041 0000 000

The “causale” or purpose is to be identified as “Regione Abruzzo — Donazione per il sisma.”

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake caused an estimated $132 million in damages, killed nearly 300 people and left an estimated 29,000 homeless.

NATO PARTNER

Azerbaijan is proving to be a reliable partner to NATO in Central Asia, U.S. Ambassador Anne E. Derse said at a conference in the capital, Baku, on Thursday.

“Azerbaijan’s strategic decision to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic organization can be the most important decision in Azerbaijan’s independent history,” she said.

“Euro-Atlantic integration covers various processes. The major principle is that a democratic state protects not only its territory but personal freedom of every citizen. This is the factor that NATO believes in. This is the common value for the alliance.”

The State Department’s latest human rights report states that Azerbaijani elections fail to meet democratic standards and its record on civil rights remains poor.

Although it is not a member of NATO, Azerbaijan joined in the alliance’s Partnership for Peace program in 1994, becoming the first of 27 nations in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to participate in the program.

It also has sent troops to help NATO missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and to support U.S. forces in Iraq.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]


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