WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon reached a deal resolving a longstanding dispute over cross-border trucking that has subjected the U.S. to billions of dollars in punitive tariffs.

The plan, unveiled at a news conference by the two presidents, will allow for half of those tariffs to be lifted immediately. It will establish a reciprocal, phased-in pilot program that allows Mexican trucks to operate inside the U.S. provided they comply with a series of safety and driver skills and language tests monitored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The U.S. had effectively banned Mexican trucks from crossing the U.S. border, after the Teamsters union and others said the trucks weren’t safe.

The ban was ruled a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and subjected the U.S. to punitive tariffs by Mexico on a range of goods, from foods to Christmas trees.

The deal to end the dispute “is built on the highest safety standards that will authorize both Mexican and United States long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations under NAFTA,” a senior administration official said.

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