Truck safety

A truck carrying commercial goods from Mexico is inspected at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales.

The Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas has added its voice to the growing backlash against President Trump’s plan to impose a tariff on all Mexican imports in response to what he says is that county’s lackluster effort to stop the flow of Central American migrants to the Southwest border.

On Thursday, Trump announced that a 5-percent tariff on all Mexican goods will take effect June 10. The levy will then rise to 10 percent on July 1, to 15 percent in August, 20 percent in September and 25 percent by Oct. 1. The tariff will only be lifted once the administration decides that Mexico is doing enough to stem the flow of migrants.

In a statement released Friday, the FPAA called the punitive tariff “a tax on American consumers,” and noted that the duties must be paid by U.S. companies.

“The latest threat from the president will harm American consumers and U.S. businesses first and foremost,” FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer said in a statement, in which he echoed concerns that the tariff will jeopardized the revised NAFTA free-trade pact with Canada and Mexico known as the USMCA.

“This takes us backwards as a country and threatens USMCA passage at a critical time in moving this agreement forward,” Jungmeyer said.

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Capitol Media Services that the president's announcement was “baffling and, if carried out, will be terribly damaging.” 

In an analysis released Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that a 5-percent tariff on imported goods from Mexico, which last year totaled $346.5 billion, would result in a potential tax increase on American businesses and consumers of $17 billion. That number would top $86 billion if the tariff reaches the 25-percent level, it said.

In Arizona, which imported $9 billion worth of goods from Mexico in 2018, a 5-percent tariff could mean a $452.1 million penalty, while a 25-percent levy threatens $2.26 billion in new costs, the Chamber of Commerce said.

In a written statement to The Arizona Republic, Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said: "While I support the president's intention of stopping unchecked illegal immigration, I do not support these types of tariffs, which will harm our economy and be passed onto Arizona small businesses and families.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also criticized the president’s tariff plan, telling the Republic in a written statement: “Raising taxes on Arizonans won’t solve the problems we face at the border. Congress and the Administration need to work together to secure our border and protect commerce that contributes billions to our economy.”

The FPAA statement noted that the punitive tariff comes on top of the 17.5-percent duty recently imposed by the Trump administration on Mexican tomatoes, and could amount to a $3 billion food tax on American consumers.

“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 was quoted as saying.

In March, Gov. Doug Ducey touted U.S. Census Bureau statistics showing that Arizona’s bilateral trade with Mexico increased 7.7 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The governor did not, however, join the opposition against Trump’s tariff plan, saying: “I prioritize national security and a solution to our humanitarian crisis at the border above commerce.”

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