Tariffs on Mexico could cost America 400,000 jobs

Ann Santiago
June 6, 2019

The Trump administration says it intends to slap a 5% tariff on every medium-sized vehicle, avocado and other Mexican import beginning June 10 - all nearly US$1 billion worth that crosses the border into the USA each day on average.

"Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country", Trump said at a joint press conference with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May.

An industry source who has met with the Mexican delegation said that ideas being floated include more border controls and joint security exercises on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, which Central American migrants pass through on their way to the United States.

If the tariffs go ahead, the United States would be in a serious dispute with two of its three top trading partners. Congress voted to disapprove of Trump's actions, but the president vetoed the resolution.

Questions remained, meanwhile, over how, exactly, the president would invoke executive authority to slap tariffs on the Mexican goods - and what Congress could do to block him.

Trump had earlier promised Britain a substantial post-Brexit trade deal, during a state visit to Britain being cast as a chance to celebrate Britain's "special relationship" with the United States and boost trade links.

Trump's threatened tariffs on Mexico have alarmed business groups, investors and lawmakers - including many in his own party.

"It is not only a problem of Central America, Mexico or the United States, but a regional situation", Adame said.

A more radical idea that has always been promoted by the DHS and may again be on the table in talks this week despite previously being a red line for Lopez Obrador, is to make Central Americans apply for Mexican asylum, not U.S. asylum.

Trump told reporters that his top aides would meet with the Mexicans on Wednesday and that "we are going to see if we can do something, but I think it's more likely that the tariffs go on".

At a lengthy closed-door lunch meeting at the Capitol, senators took turns warning Trump officials there could be trouble if the GOP-held Senate votes on disapproving the tariffs. He also said "it is nonsense" that the burden will be placed on Americans, citing "virtually zero impact on price inflation" since those tariffs went into effect.

The people likely to pay the steepest price for Trump's attempts to bend Mexico and China to his will are poor Americans, who already live close to the financial edge and could have to pay more for everyday purchases.

"There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure", said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

So he made a decision to bruise Trump's ego by calling him a cuck and a blowhard, expecting POTUS would conclude that "strength" required proving Schumer wrong by implementing the tariffs over Republican objections.

The mixed messages sent confusing signals to Congress, businesses and foreign leaders about Trump's threat to impose the tariffs unless the Mexican government cracks down on migrants to the United States' southern border. The tariff rates are published by the U.S. International Trade Commission in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which lists U.S. tariffs on everything from dried plantains (1.4 percent) to parachutes (3 percent). However, due to the evolving global economy, most consumer goods are made overseas or contain foreign parts.

"We just did not see this coming", says Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.

GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, called the tariffs a "mistake" and said it was unlikely Trump would impose them.

"This is not going to fix our broken immigration system", Brown said.

Trump declared the national emergency on February 15, citing a humanitarian and national security crisis at the border, prominently due to the influx of illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, whose numbers have been overwhelming U.S.

"I think that this is unsafe territory".

However, the tariffs might not ever have to go into effect, depending on Mexico's level of cooperation, according to a key Trump trade adviser.

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