In the quest to create new jobs and save existing ones, don’t forget the many thousands of American jobs lost or threatened because of the cross-border dispute about Mexican trucks.

That was the message to President Obama from the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs as the White House jobs summit the week of Dec. 7.

The Washington, D.C.-based alliance has estimated that more than 25,000 jobs are either being threatened or have been lost since the $2.4 billion in tariffs were imposed by Mexico in March.

The 140 member group — composed of agribusiness, retailers, produce associations and other interests — is pushing Congress and the Obama administration to restore some measure of access for Mexican trucks in the U.S.

In opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Congress eliminated a cross-border trucking safety pilot project run by the Department of Transportation in an appropriations bill. That prompted Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs in March.

Congress and the Obama administration have to be committed to ending the dispute, said Kam Quarles, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

“Congress has got to step aside from their blocking of funding for that pilot program and the administration has got to reinstate the program and move forward with satisfying Mexico that they intend to implement that new program,” he said.

One encouraging sign, he said Dec. 10, is that a conference report from a fiscal year 2010 omnibus appropriations bill appeared to remove that prohibition on use of funds for the pilot program.

The agricultural sector and other affected industries are beginning to quantify the economic effects of the tariffs.