President Trump on Thursday announced that he will impose another 10% in tariffs on all imports from Mexico, and they will increase incrementally to 25%, “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP,” Trump tweeted about the new duties, which go into effect June 10.
This latest move comes just a week after the president was compelled to send a $16 billion bailout to farmers affected by tariffs that already have been imposed on other countries. Steel and automakers have received similar tax-funded supports.
Trump has ignored, or defied, howls of protest from various industry interests, economists, lawmakers and others. So it’s doubtful he will change his trade strategy; we can expect tariff wars for the rest of his presidency.
To his credit, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador didn’t respond with his own threats of retaliatory fees. Rather, he sent his foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, to Washington to address the issue. Trump made his announcement on the same day negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada convened to reconcile the details of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which was written to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and some analysts say the outcome of those talks now is in question.
Lopez Obrador and Trump clearly have different ideas on how to deal with Central American refugees, and the Mexican president’s plan has merit. Unlike the U.S. reactionary approach, AMLO, as the president is known, has a long-term view. He hopes to invest in Mexico’s infrastructure and economy in order to create jobs that will inspire both Mexican and Central American workers to settle down in Mexico, and build up its economy, rather than seek their futures north of the Rio Grande.
We wish him luck. But it’s not a rapid fix, and certainly won’t appease our impatient president.
In the meantime, U.S. residents can expect to learn just how lucky we have had it under free-market policies. The tariffs might lead to immediate price drops as growers sell off produce and other goods that they won’t be able to sell overseas. Over time, however, we can expect higher prices and seasonal shortages as they scale back production.
Most agricultural products are harvested once a year, although the climate in the Rio Grande Valley and some other areas makes both a spring and fall crop of melons and some other crops possible.
Despite these seasonal harvests, shoppers often are able to buy their produce all year long. That’s because growers here supply both local and global markets when their crops are ripe, and their counterparts in other parts of the world, which have different growing seasons, do the same. So part of the year our grapes might come from Northern California, and at other times they’re brought in from Panama or other countries.
Trade wars reduce much of that global trade by raising costs, and prices, to unbearable limits. People will simply stop buying grapes if the prices are too high.
So let us enjoy the produce we have when we have it, learn to plan our meals according to seasonal supply, and pray that reason eventually wins out and free trade once again makes our lives better.