The U.S. Department of Transportation says it will soon allow Mexican trucking firms to apply for authorization to make long-haul cross-border runs, potentially ending a longstanding dispute.

It says it expects the move to permanently end Mexico's on-again, off-again retaliatory tariffs on $2 billion in U.S. imports.

The department said Friday that data from a three-year pilot program that ended in October "showed that companies from Mexico had violation, driver, and vehicle out-of-service rates that met the level of safety as American and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers."

The department did not say when applications would start.

The opening is a long-delayed provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. It has been stalled for years by concerns it could put highway safety and American jobs at risk.

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