While the majority of their time together was spent on other issues, the topic of NAFTA and free trade, and the subsequent cross-border trucking dispute came up late in a Thursday press conference. When the U.S. Congress killed the funding for the program recently, Obama’s aides said they would like to have a plan in place for the president to present to Calderón when they met.
While there are no indications a formal proposal was made, both presidents agreed on the importance of free trade between the countries. Calderón mentioned the importance of the U.S. economy to his own country’s struggles and how trade between the two can help or hinder economic conditions.
“We must protect trade,” he said. “And the best way of doing so is to allow it to flow naturally, with no restrictions. So going beyond the autonomous decisions that every country can take, and the legitimate exercise of the rights that are part of the pacts and agreements that we have in order to protect free trade, I agree with President Obama, we have to go further. We have to go beyond in order to improve trade between both our countries. And we do not want to restrict it.”
Obama reiterated his desire to work out an equitable solution.
“My team is working with President Calderón’s team to resolve this issue. I’m hopeful that we can resolve it in an effective way,” Obama said. “It’s not helpful to a number of U.S. producers who are interested in selling into Mexico and are fearful that they may be subject to countervailing tariffs or retaliation. So we’re going to see if we can get this fixed. But I can tell you that President Calderón and I are entirely on the same page in believing that we can create greater opportunities for trade and strengthen our commercial relationships between our two countries.”
When the cross-border problem is resolved is anyone’s guess, but at least the two presidents seem eager to find a solution. That’s a start.