Mexico tariffs off for now

The good news is that no tariffs will apply to Mexican produce coming into the United States today.

The bad news is that fresh produce, and agriculture in general, will continue to be a pawn in trade negotiations, whether with Mexico, China or any other nation. I suppose there’s a silver lining in that food, and fresh produce, matters enough to be a pawn.

While some speculated the 5 percent tariff was just a bluff, it does seem to have gotten the Trump Administration some concessions as it battles an unprecedented problem at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In order to avoid the tariff, which would have escalated to 25 percent in a few months, Mexico agreed to do more to stop the surge of Central American migrants coming to the U.S.

Trump hinted in a tweet today that there may be more to the agreement than has been reported, especially in light of several media outlets claiming the tariff negotiation only settled on points that the U.S. and Mexico had already agreed upon.

Trump tweeted: We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!… We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!

The threat that tariffs are still on the table should concern the produce industry, but the standoff and subsequent stand down ought to give the Trump Administration some time to see if Mexico’s actions reduce the flow of migrants to the U.S. via the southern border, and if it does, Trump can claim a political win and not need to threaten an import tariff in the near future.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services