Grassley, Durbin, pork producers, business roundtable oppose new Mexico tariffs |

Grassley, Durbin, pork producers, business roundtable oppose new Mexico tariffs

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

After President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he may impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican products coming into the United States, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the National Pork Producers Council and the Business Roundtable issued statements denouncing the move.

Trump said he would impose the tariffs by June 10 if Mexico did not stop the arrival of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Administration officials said the action was needed because the number of arrivals from Mexico and Central America, including children, has increased so dramatically.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged Trump to reconsider the tariffs because they do not solve social problems, but said Mexico would continue processing the approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that the Mexican government began Thursday.

From a consumer standpoint, the tariffs would raise the cost of Mexican beer and avocados, two of the biggest Mexican food exports to the United States.

In a statement late Thursday, Grassley said, “Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent.”

“Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country.

“President Trump should consider alternatives, such as imposing a fee on the billions of dollars of remittances that annually leave the United States to Mexico, which only encourage illegal immigration and don’t help the U.S. economy. It could fund border security measures and would put economic pressure on Mexico without imposing a financial burden on U.S. consumers or harming American jobs.

“I’ve long supported reforms to remittance law, which haven’t become law because of opposition from big banks and other financial interests. Mexico must help get the border crisis under control and the president should use appropriate authorities to apply pressure.

“I’ve also called for a Safe Third Country Agreement so that Mexico cannot simply pass the buck to the United States. Mexico has a leading role to play here when asylum seekers are traversing their country without regard to the law and without consequence.

“Congress must also immediately fully fund border security and interior enforcement. Democrats should come to the table in a reasonable way and work to put an end to the security and humanitarian crisis on the border,” Grassley said.

“I support nearly every one of President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them. I urge the president to consider other options.”

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, said, “America’s loudest president on immigration has failed at our borders.”

“In his frustration, he promises a new round of tariffs raising prices on Americans, killing our jobs, and once again hitting Illinois farmers and businesses the hardest. How much more can our nation take from this ‘stable genius’?”

David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., said his group appeals to Trump “to reconsider plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico.”

“American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement,” Herring said in a statement. “Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion.

“Let’s move forward with ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, preserving zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term; complete a trade agreement with Japan; and resolve the trade dispute with China, where U.S. pork has a historic opportunity to dramatically expand exports given the countries struggle with African swine fever.

“We hope those members of Congress who are working to restrict the administration’s trade relief programs take note. While these programs provide only partial relief to the damage trade retaliation has exacted on U.S. agriculture, they are desperately needed. We need the full participation of all organizations involved in the U.S. pork supply chain for these programs to deliver their intended benefits.”

For most of the last year, U.S. pork producers have lost $12 per hog due to trade retaliation by Mexico, which was lifted last week, according to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes.

Hayes projects that U.S. pork producers will lose the entire Mexican market, one that represented 20% of total pork exports last year, if they face protracted retaliation, NPPC said. As of April 1, the value of U.S. pork exports to Mexico were down 28% from the same period last year, the group noted.

The Business Roundtable, a broad industry group, said, “Imposing unilateral tariffs on Mexican imports would be a grave error.”

“Business Roundtable strongly urges the administration not to move forward with these tariffs, which would create significant economic disruption and tax U.S. workers, farmers, consumers and businesses.

“Moving ahead with these tariffs would also jeopardize the prospects for the administration’s top trade priority — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — and would undermine duty-free North American trade that supports over 12 million American jobs.

“Unilateral tariffs on all Mexican imports will not solve the urgent problems of securing our border and fixing our broken immigration system. We urge the administration to engage constructively with our neighbors and allies to resolve trade, migration and security issues in ways that will benefit Americans, not cause economic damage.” F

–The Hagstrom Report