Economy

Feds say 'no' to U.S. idea of separate bilateral deals

Feds say 'no' to U.S. idea of separate bilateral deals

On Tuesday, Mexico announced a long list of United States' products it would start levying additional import duties on, less than a week after President Donald Trump's administration said it was lifting the exemptions given to Canada, Mexico and the European Union from higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from those regions. About 90 percent of Mexico's $1.07 billion annual imports of pork legs and shoulders come from USA suppliers and the country expects to import more from elsewhere to avoid pushing prices higher for the cuts used to make hams and other processed meats.

The package would include increased purchases of US soybeans, corn and other agricultural goods.

Mexico is the largest market for United States pork exporters. As of May 31, they've all expired, and the USA government decided not to renew them. But growers will look for other export markets to make up for lost sales to Mexico. Trump has accused Canada of ripping off the United States through unfair trade practices, and Canadian officials have said Trump is using inaccurate information to attack a US ally.

Mexico and the USA had total trade of about $557 billion in 2017, with a balance of $71 billion in the favor of Mexico. One will raise tariffs, a type of tax, causing the other to respond, in a tit-for-tat escalation.

Mexico is the state's top foreign market for apples, and growers "still have a good deal of fruit left to sell" from the 2017 crop, said Mark Powers of the Northwest Horticultural Council. Canada dominates, supplying more than a quarter of all US steel, aluminum and iron imports in 2016.

When the steel tariffs were first proposed in March, the EU, Canada and Mexico all reacted by threatening to retaliate with their own sanctions against some of these products. Canada announced dollar-for-dollar tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as sanctions of 15 percent to 25 percent on whiskey, orange juice and other food products.

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Mexico - a net importer of U.S. steel - is also putting 25% duties on a range of American steel products.

The tariffs, meanwhile, have further complicated the U.S.

Mexico promised retaliatory measures after the USA announced it would go forward with its plan to impose steel and aluminum tariffs.

Disruption to U.S. -Canada trade could also affect cross-border supply chains that have grown during the NAFTA era. Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures deferred trading months at one point fell more than 2 percent following the Mexico pork tariff news.

"Whatever kind of opportunity is out there remains to be seen", Powers said.


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