Mexico strikes back

Mexico strikes back

U.S. pork farmers could lose at least 360 USD million annually, after Mexico said it would slap a massive tariff on pork imports to retaliate against President Donald Trump's aluminum and steel import levies, according to an estimate by the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Mexico, the second-largest market for U.S. pork exports, said Wednesday it would impose a 10 percent tariff on all U.S. pork products, with the tariff rising to 20 percent by July 5, a spokesperson for the Mexican Ministry of Economy confirmed. Mexico imported almost 650,000 metric tons of pork legs and shoulder last year, worth about $1 billion, according to government data.

Depending on how the hike is absorbed by Mexican pork producers, the new tariff could mean higher prices for Mexican consumers, lower profits for U.S. pork farmers, and loss of business to other countries. While Americans prefer ribs and bacon, pork shoulder and legs (used for ham) are central to some of Mexico's most popular dishes, including tacos al pastor and carnitas.

Ever since trade war talk heated up, pork prices have been on the decline. "It probably took pork prices from the point where hogs were slightly profitable to the point where most producers are losing money," Dave Miller, director of research for the Iowa Farm Bureau, told NBC News.

Now that tariffs are actually going into effect, the damage could be even greater — turning many farmers, some of whom were Trump supporters, into cannon fodder for his protectionist trade war. Despite supporting the president and the idea of renegotiating trade agreements, some farmers don't like how the president is going about it.

"When we talk to farmers, a lot of them agree with the end goal, which is to rebalance tariffs that appear to be unfair. It really is unfair if we have a 2 percent tariff on cars from Germany and they have 20 percent tariffs on our cars," Miller said. "On the other hand, we'd also rather it not get done in a tariff-based war because no one wins at that," he added — and if the tariffs continue, Mexico might start importing pork from Brazil or Canada, said Miller.

Trump appeared to brush off such criticism in a series of Twitter posts on Monday, insisting that he is imposing tariffs to protect national security and jobs.

Source: NBC News