WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today led a group of senators in urging the Administration to address international trade violations that are impacting commercial truck manufacturers and workers in Ohio. In a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, the senators urged the Administration to take all necessary actions with the Republic of Colombia for its failure to honor its international trade commitments, particularly with regards to the importation of heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD.), Richard Burr (R-NC), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) .            

“Entry into trade agreements with the United States, such as the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, is the privilege of those nations which abide by the rules of the international system,” the senators wrote.  “Permitting Colombia to violate its commitments without consequence would establish a terrible precedent. The value of agreements negotiated with the United States would be diminished. And the case for enhancing the President’s authority to negotiate new trade pacts would be undercut. 

“We encourage you to exercise America’s prerogatives within the terms of the free trade agreement and take all necessary actions with Colombia until it liberalizes the trade in heavy-duty commercial vehicles. America’s truck manufacturers and the integrity of the international system deserve nothing less.”    

"Navistar applauds Senators Portman and Brown for their leadership on this important issue,” said Tom Clevinger, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Global at Navistar. “Over the last two years, America's heavy duty truck manufacturers have been denied hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exports due to Colombia's counterproductive trade restrictions.  We appreciate USTR's efforts to date and ask that they use all means necessary to hold Colombia accountable for their actions.”

The Colombian truck market is one of the few in the world dominated by American products. In 2012, Colombian customers purchased approximately 12,000 heavy-duty trucks at an average price of nearly $100,000.  In April of 2013, without any public notice, the Colombian government changed the rules by which new trucks can be registered.  The buyers of new trucks must first purchase a second, old truck and scrap it before they can register and use their new capital purchase.  In response to this counterproductive policy, the truck market in Colombia has shrunk by nearly 70 percent.  Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of truck exports have fallen victim to Colombia’s scrapping rule. 

Ohio companies impacted include: Daimler which has 575 employees at Detroit Remanufacturing in Cambridge and 175 employees at Detroit PDC in Canton, Navistar which has facilities in Springfield and Etna, over 1,000 workers at PACCAR’s Kenworth manufacturing facility in Chillicothe, and Volvo Group which has 300 employees in Ohio, many of whom work at the Parts Distribution Center in Columbus.

Full text of the letter can be found here.