Mexico hits back with $3 billion in tariffs on U.S. products

By Susan McFarland

June 6 (UPI) -- Retaliating for tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, Mexico hit back Tuesday with fiscal penalties on U.S. exports like pork, steel, cheese and whiskey.

The Mexican tariffs, announced last week, officially took effect Tuesday.


In addition to other moves against American-made products, Mexican officials set tariffs on U.S. pork shoulder and legs at 10 percent, and they will rise to 20 percent by July 5. Experts say that duty could usher in $100 million losses every year for U.S. pork farmers.

Mexico imported about $1 billion worth of pork last year.

The tariffs are a response to President Donald Trump's new duties on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and the European Union. The move followed failed attempts to settle what the administration said are national security concerns about the foreign-made metals.

Chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump wants to negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately. Mexican negotiators say they won't consider splitting negotiations for a matter that should be covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 1994 pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada.


Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, opposes splitting the negotiations.

"A NAFTA without both Canada and Mexico included is no longer a North American Free Trade Agreement," Brady spokeswoman Julia Slingsby said. "Chairman Brady believes one free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico is best for America. It provides the most certainty for American companies and is the best way we can sell 'Made in America' products."

Mexico's retaliation is designed to effect some parts of the United States represented by high-profile Republicans.

Angela Hofmann, deputy director of Farmers for Free Trade, said the tariffs will exact immediate and painful consequences on U.S. farmers and the domestic economy.

"Hog, apple, potato and dairy farmers are among those suddenly facing a 10 or 20 percent tax hike on the exports they depend of for their livelihoods," she said in a statement. "Farmers need certainty and open markets to make ends meet. Right now they are getting chaos and protectionism."

Hoffmann said American exports to Mexico have increased five-fold in the last 25 years.

"Escalating trade tensions that have resulted in today's tariffs put that growth at risk," she said. "These are self-inflicted wounds. Farmers deserve better."


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