Most importers unprepared for Mexican tariff

Produce importers may not be prepared to pay the tariffs if President Trump follows through on his plan to implement a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports Monday, June 10.

As of June 7, talks between U.S. and Mexican officials continue, and Mexico reportedly has offered to send its National Guard to secure its border with Guatemala, among other pledges to help slow the surge of illegal border crossings into the U.S.

Importers would need to begin using an Automated Clearinghouse, which is an electronic payment system for paying customs fees, duties and taxes electronically, and Fresh Produce Association of the Americas BB #:144354 president Lance Jungmeyer said many FPAA members haven’t gotten their accounts set up yet.

“We haven’t paid duties on tariffs in 20 years, so many companies aren’t set up to pay for it,” he said June 6. “That usually takes 7-10 days, but Customs now says it will take 15 business days because of the rush.”

He said FPAA has had several meetings preparing members for the possibility of the new tariff, including one on June 4.

Jungmeyer said he’s optimistic that continuing talks will lead to a compromise that doesn’t punish importers of Mexican produce, but if he were guessing, he said he thought there was an 80 percent chance the tariff will begin June 10.

He said importers may be able to use their customs brokers, but they would also quickly be overwhelmed if too many importers try to use their bonds.

Other sources reached this week preferred not to comment until a decision on the tariff is made.

President Trump has struggled to deal with the practicality and politics of the unprecedented numbers of illegal border crossings and has gotten little help from either Republicans or Democrats in Congress, so he has turned to the Mexican government.

The tariffs would apply to all imports coming from Mexico to the U.S., including the $13 billion worth of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services