Trump announces 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods

The President tweeted, “On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming into our country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our country, STOP. The tariff will gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied…”

The following morning, May 31, Lance Jungmeyer, the president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, responded in a press release: “The latest threat from the President will harm American consumers and U.S. businesses first and foremost. This takes us backwards as a country and threatens USMCA passage at a critical time in moving this agreement forward.”

The FPAA added: “This comes on top of 17.5 percent duties recently imposed by the Administration in Mexican tomatoes, duties which could raise prices 40 to 85 percent, according to an analysis from Arizona State University economists.”

The Wall Street Journal reported May 30 that Trump’s announcement to impose escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports is an effort to push Mexico “to deter the flow of asylum-seeking Central American families to the southern border.”

WSJ continued: “Reacting to what he described as ‘Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion,’ the president said the tariff on America’s third-largest trading partner would begin at 5 percent and grow steadily, hitting 25 percent on Oct. 1 unless Mexico takes satisfactory action to halt the migrants.”

The Wall Street Journal quoted a White House release indicating, “If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed.”

The president also lashed out at Democrats, who he said “refuse to help in any way, shape, or form.”

Mexico’s business publication, El Financiero on May 31 indicated that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded to Trump’s announcement by saying that the Mexican government has not remained idle because it does meet its responsibility in immigration matters.

El Financiero quoted López Obrador at a May 31 press conference: “We have not remained with our arms crossed, we have not neglected this painful issue, because that should not happen if there were justice in the world, if there were not so much poverty and inequality.

“The issue of migratory flows is being addressed, we insist on attending the underlying problem.”

El Financiero continued: “When asked about whether extraordinary measures will be applied after the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump about imposing 5 percent tariffs on all Mexican products if Mexico does not curb the flow of migrants, López Obrador said his government has done an important work in the matter.

“There is something that is evident, the migratory flow has grown due to the crises in several countries in Central America, I can tell you that half of the migrants are from the sister republic of Honduras, and that in view of this growth we have acted and been accompanied by return to their villages to migrants, respecting their human rights (…) What has been done is to accompany many migrants back, give them work options and protect them.”

López Obrador was further quoted as saying, “We are going to overcome this attitude of the United States government; they are going to rectify it because the people of Mexico do not deserve a deal like the one they want to apply.”

The FPAA release noted that Americans will be paying an extra $3 billion for avocados, tomatoes, mangos and other fruits and vegetables if 25 percent tariffs on Mexican imports into the U.S. take effect in October.

“This is a tax on healthy diets, plain and simple,” said Jungmeyer. “With the obesity epidemic, this is completely unacceptable and counterproductive in dealing with the migrant issue at hand.”

Americans consume $12 billion in Mexican fruits and vegetables a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

FPAA said that, additionally, “fruit and vegetable growers from Florida and Georgia have convinced their Congressional delegation to withhold votes on USMCA unless Congress passes a Marco Rubio-led bill that would add even more duties or tariffs on Mexican produce.

“Not only are these punitive tariffs and duties a tax on American consumers, they must first be paid by American companies.

“This is going to be a drain on Southwest border communities, where employers have already cut jobs due to other moves by the administration to put pressure on the border,” Jungmeyer added.

BY TAD THOMPSON | MAY 31, 2019 | The Produce News