Reaction to 20% trade tariff suggestion

While White House press secretary Sean Spicer has retreated from his initial suggestions that a 20% trade tariff could be considered on imports from Mexico as a way of paying for a wall between the US and Mexico, the idea has prompted consternation and condemnation in the US and around the world, including in New Zealand.

RNZ: US tariffs on Mexico could hurt Fisher & Paykel

Punitive tariffs by the United States on Mexico could rebound on a major New Zealand company, according to its managers in Auckland.

US President Donald Trump has talked of imposing a 20 percent tariff on Mexican exports to the US as a way of making Mexico pay for a wall being planned for the US-Mexican border.

Since that tariff idea was first unveiled, the White House has back-pedalled slightly, saying it is an option, not a proposal.

But the mere possibility of a tariff has hit the New Zealand firm Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which manufactures goods for the American market in the Mexican town of Tijuana.

News of a possible tariff caused its shares to fall 3.06 percent yesterday.

Loose talk from White House press secretaries can have quick and widespread effects.

And it has prompted strong criticism in the US. Politico: Major newspaper editorial boards blast Trump’s border ‘war’

The plan amounts to a “tariff tantrum,” The New York Times wrote in its editorial, while The Wall Street Journal labeled the week-old administration’s efforts at international negotiations “amateur hour.” Trump’s rhetoric, wrote The Washington Post, is “a stick of dynamite” inserted into mutually beneficial relationship that politicians from both countries have worked years to build.

Despite Trump claiming in a media conference a short time ago (with Theresa May) that he thinks he has a good relationship with the Mexican president:

Trump’s already strained relationship with Mexico descended to a new low on Thursday, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceling a planned visit to Washington next week (Trump claimed that the decision to cancel the trip was mutual).

The president has promised from the very beginning of his campaign that the border wall would be paid for not by U.S. taxpayers but by the Mexican government. Peña Nieto has been unflinching in his response, insisting at every turn that under no circumstances will Mexico pay for the wall.

As a means of extracting payment, White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested Thursday that the U.S. might levy a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports, though he later pulled back that assertion.

Such a move would require the U.S. to back out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade deal that Trump railed against on the campaign trail and has pledged either to renegotiate or to leave entirely. Extricating the U.S. from NAFTA could have severe economic consequences, threatening continent-wide supply chains fostered by North American free trade over the past 23 years and with them, the millions of American jobs that depend on exporting goods to Canada and Mexico.

Imposing such an import on Mexican goods, the Times noted, could create a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in American grocery stores and drive up the price of many other consumer goods made in Mexico. Ultimately, the Times’ editorial board wrote, “a tax on Mexican imports would be paid by American consumers and businesses that buy those goods. Americans would pay for the wall, not Mexicans.”

The Post agreed, writing that while a tariff could extract some money from Mexico, “it also would likely act as a tax on American consumers of Mexican goods. American consumers, that is, would pay for the wall by paying higher prices for Mexican-grown tomatoes, Mexican-sewn clothing and Mexican-built cars.”

The Wall Street Journal:

“Mr. Trump said as a candidate that he’d treat America’s friends better than Mr. Obama did, but his first move has been to treat Mexico like Mr. Obama treated Israel. On present course he may get comparable results, or worse.”

It looks like Trump and his administration are rushing things far too much, and thinking through the possible ramifications of what they say publicly far too little.

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83 Comments

  1. Joe Bloggs

     /  28th January 2017

    The guy is a babbling incoherent narcissistic fool.

    If the huge numbers of leaks from the White House (leaking like a sieve less than a week in, and with total distain for the witless one) have any credibility then he’s already established a strong reputation as a clueless child who is self-absorbed and happiest when sat in front of a television watching the chat shows.

    As for being a man of action, he’s a busy fool giving the appearance of signing executive orders without a clue as to how the affected state departments will carry out his decrees. But more than that, he’s setting American foreign policy that cuts it off from the relationships that have fuelled its growth for most of the past century.

    The Trump team seems driven by its perception of enemies more than its analysis of national interests. If the president and his advisers thought seriously about the historical sources of America’s strength, they would not be so quick to destroy the liberal world order that it built. They would also think through the implications of the alternative order they are trying to create. It sounds courageous to say the United States will jettison pesky allies who do not “pay their share” and shut potential terrorists out of our country, but do those angry actions really serve its interests? Do they make America stronger, safer, and more prosperous? Almost certainly not.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/trumps-executive-orders-will-set-america-back-70-years/514730/

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th January 2017

      The proper response to this kind of hysteria is to laugh.

      Your self delusion is so great I wonder how you find your front door, Joe. Oh well, try to make it through the next decade without having a stroke from stratospheric blood pressure. Meanwhile the guy you denigrate is tackling the worlds’ problems that the last generation of your politicians created.

      Reply
      • Joe Bloggs

         /  28th January 2017

        That’s quite all right Alan. Your pathetic turn to the art of the ad hom attack demonstrates you have nothing of substance to add.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  28th January 2017

          Doesn’t really compare with just your first sentence above, Joe.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  28th January 2017

            Joe is not alone in thinking this, If he was, and everyone else thought that President Pussygrabber was a brilliant statesman with an excellent sense of justice and a great knowlege of international relations and security, I might agree that Joe is wrong.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              Hell will freeze over before you agree that Joe is wrong, Kitty.

              The art of the ad hom attack is in safe hands with you two.

  2. Poor Joe Bloggs, another sad liberal for 8 years. The “US Politico media” is another extreme Demoncrat ally of false news. America is now draining the swamp, and the Washington sickly liberals and Clinton evils have nowhere to go. . Goodbye liberal guilt ridden sad sacks

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  28th January 2017

      Early days, Paul. Great entertainer but still a lot of scope for foot-shots.

      Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  28th January 2017

      The trouble with your argument, Paul, is that the swamp is being replaced by a tar pit,

      Reply
      • … with feathers …

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  28th January 2017

          Did people really imagine that Trump would not fill the ‘swamp’ with his billionaire cronies and family members ? Clap hands if you believe in fairies.

          Draining the swamp was just rhetoric and could mean anything-or nothing, as it has.

          Reply
  3. David

     /  28th January 2017

    The guy campaigned on putting American workers first but its clearly a surprise to far left Politico and friends who clearly much prefer Obama,s soaring rhetoric and then no action. Trump putting tariffs on manufactured goods made in Mexico is a brilliant way of bringing jobs back and deterring companies from hopping over the border, how this conflates with being isolationist is a bloody mystery.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th January 2017

      And of course it will, as intended, immediately focus Mexican minds sharply on finding ways to be helpful rather than the reverse.

      The media are so bloody clueless it is frightening.

      Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  28th January 2017

      He’s going to have to hurry up with that wall then. Where will these workers go when the factories close?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  28th January 2017

        They certainly won’t be voting for their own politicians who made it happen. So look for a totally different negotiation playing out at least in private from the nonsense portrayed by the media.

        Reply
        • Anonymous Coward

           /  28th January 2017

          What are you talking about? Mexicans can’t vote in US elections,

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  28th January 2017

            I think Al’s suggesting the jobless workers might blame their own government for not somehow working out some kind of deal that saved their jobs. If that’s not what he meant, then I can’t make any sense of it either.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              I guess I have to confirm the bleeding obvious, G. I gave you a tick for it.

        • Yep, like Maori don’t vote for their own politicians complicit in ongoing institutionalised racism. So easy to shift all responsibility away from the United States.

          The media only portray the nonsense the politicians feed them Alan. How can they portray what’s going on in private if its going on in private …?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  28th January 2017

            A bit of insight and common sense is all that’s needed, PZ. Can be backed up with a bit of nod and wink confirmation.

            Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  28th January 2017

        This may be fake news. Mexico announces it’s going to build a tunnel.

        http://www.walesoncraic.com/mexican-president-going-build-tunnel/

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  28th January 2017

          A tick for humour and the warning, AC.

          Reply
          • Anonymous Coward

             /  28th January 2017

            Trumps going to find a lot of tunnels when they start digging the foundations.

            Reply
            • Conspiratoor

               /  28th January 2017

              A physical wall in a traditional sense, I can’t see it ac

              Precast concrete would seem to be the go

              1954 miles, (600 existing miles won’t meet the standard). 8 inches thick, 6 feet below the ground to deter tunneling, 20 feet above it.

              That’s 1,030,435 segments

              Twelve million, six hundred thousand cubic yards. In other words, this wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam — a project that, unlike Trump’s wall, has qualitative, verifiable economic benefits.
              Such a wall would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis.
              That quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth

              and you’re right, they’ll just tunnel under it

              http://www.nationalmemo.com/an-engineer-explains-why-trumps-wall-is-so-implausible/

            • Conspiratoor

               /  28th January 2017

              Underground movement sensors take care of the tunnel option.

              However if Trump was serious this is how he’d approach the problem

              http://ijr.com/2015/01/233628-saudi-arabia-anti-isis-wall/

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              They’ve found about one tunnel a year since 2006 but these are built by the drug cartels for smuggling drugs not people. Too much chance of people exposing the costly tunnel. They seem to prefer tunnelling in built up areas like San Diego where the tunnel entrances can be concealed in houses.

              Yes the cost estimate I saw for a wall like c suggests was $8 billion for materials total cost: $30-40B.

    • @ David – “Trump putting tariffs on manufactured goods made in Mexico is a brilliant way of bringing jobs back …”

      Great, let’s do it here!

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  28th January 2017

        I don’t think New Zealand putting tariffs on manufactured goods made in Mexico will do much PZ……..

        Reply
        • We could use it against some of our major FTA trading partners PDB! Maybe China? (And you must have known that’s what I meant coz otherwise you’re as dumb as shite)

          Tariffs PDB, like Trumpy’s doing … to bring jobs back to New Zealand. To put NZ workers first, you know, like Trumpy’s doing for American workers …

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  28th January 2017

            No reason to take the economic training wheels off yet PZ if you are trying to compare the effects of the big-ole USA putting tariffs on stuff to little-ole isolated NZ trying to do the same trick with the very same results.

            Reply
      • Oh … No … Of course, its only a “negotiating tactic” …

        What do they call this? “Nice save” …

        Got both ends of this argument stitched up …
        It can only go OUR way now, whichever way it goes …

        Anyhow, so its a negotiating tactic, okay …
        That means we can use it as a negotiating tactic too …

        What would we be negotiating FOR again?

        Reply
          • I yearn for a post-neoliberal synthesis PDB … “going forward” … you know …
            So that those who aren’t predatory don’t have to don wolves clothing in the future because the predators prevail by majority rule … kinda thing …

            Can’t go on repeating this over and over. You get the idea or you don’t.

            I understand now that dave1924 is a “Centrist” …
            Maybe you can let go your deluded perception of me like I have mine of dave?

            It won’t stop me debating issues with him … or calling him derivative names if he calls me them …

            Reply
        • David

           /  28th January 2017

          “That means we can use it as a negotiating tactic too …”

          Sure. Give it a go. Do you think it will work given you have a market the size and importance of the US? Mexico needs US markets far more than the US needs Mexican manufactured goods. Do you think this apply in NZ’s trading relationships?

          Reply
          • So in trade as in the school playground David, its the natural right of the biggest and strongest to bully the rest …?

            Reply
            • David

               /  28th January 2017

              Has the reality of international relations just hit you?

              If you want to negotiate, best to do so from a position of strength.

            • By this reasoning, surely self-sufficiency in ag-hort and manufacturing would be our most sensible “position of strength” …?

            • David

               /  28th January 2017

              err. no, Self-sufficiency is the surest way to poverty.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              If you are small you play the big guys against each other. If you are big you pick on a little guy. Playground strategy 101, PZ.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  28th January 2017

              We’ve got the meat, dairy, vegetables and electricity covered. Manufacturing would take a great leap backwards, the raw materials for a lot of things don’t exist here. Everything would end up being made out of Pine.

            • @ AC – Trade in raw materials for manufacturing then … or develop new pine and other plant-based plastics industries … I believe potato has considerable potential …

              Seek innovative alternatives …

              I guess Playground Strategy 101 is where the human race is at Alan?

              We’ve got a long way to go until negotiation happens at Graduate or Master’s level …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              If you haven’t mastered 101 you are not equipped to progress, PZ.

              Trump is well past that level (so was Key) but most of the media haven’t met the entry requirements for tuition yet.

            • No, all you have to do is know about Playground Strategy 101 to realise it will NEVER obtain the best outcome for all concerned … It is WIN/LOSE or …. you guessed it … FUNDAMENTAL DIVIDE.

              You are seriously deluded about Trump and Key in your psychological (and probably pathological) quest for the ideal Rightie ‘leader’. Your own King Arthur, Knight of the Business Roundtable. We all do this I think, we project our archetypal desires out onto the world in the hope another will fulfil the dream … or vacuum …

              Kings, Queens, military leaders and ‘great’ politicians often occupy the niche we leave open for them by being incomplete in ourselves …

              Anyhow, that aside … Trump is a narcissistic bully … and Key was a slimeball chameleon … He was such a snake he convinced the Right he was Right even while he drifted Left (Bless his heart) …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th January 2017

              You have confused strategy with goals, PZ. The strategy is the means to attain the desired goals. It is independent of the quality and value of those goals.

              Trump and Key both have skills the Left can only dream of – and insult in their desperation. Those are the simple facts of life.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  28th January 2017

    The tariff seems to have changed to an option and could well keep going to the back of the queue.

    It’s nonsense to say that it would make American jobs. Where are the factories going to be built ? What will happen in the meantime ? The shops that sell Mexican goods will be hit and jobs there put at risk. Tomatoes can’t be grown fast enough to keep up with the demand, the plants take months to grow. What will people do until then ?

    This idea that suddenly there will be American jobs is child’s talk.

    I wonder if Trump will sack all his own foreign workers and get rid of his foreign cars. Ha ha,

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  28th January 2017

      They could be phased in to allow local enterprises to get or gear up. Factories can be built anywhere. Some closed ones could even be rejuvenated & retasked.

      Current tarrifs on US imports:
      http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/07/trump-tariffs-countries-and-products-that-pay-the-highest-us-tariffs.html

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th January 2017

        In one of his addresses – can’t remember who to – he addressed manufacturers along the lines: “There are 50 states. You can trade with each other. That’s enough for you to compete to set up & employ American workers.”

        Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  28th January 2017

        What happens to shops while the factories are being built ? Where will the materials and all the things needed come from ? The closed factories may well be the wrong kind. A biscuit factory can’t make hardware without major changes.

        Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  28th January 2017

      They could just eat the tomatoes that illegal immigrants help grow in Florida maybe?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  28th January 2017

        Dream on. If Trump has his way, these will be rotting unharvested as the workers are rounded up and sent back home.

        Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  28th January 2017

        If those were enough, they wouldn’t need to import tomatoes.

        Reply
        • Anonymous Coward

           /  28th January 2017

          I don’t believe they need to import them, Mexico dumps them on the US market under the NAFTA trade deal. Also Canada is the largest exporter of tomatoes to the US, though mostly processed as catsup.

          Reply
  5. Conspiratoor

     /  28th January 2017

    Settle down folks. The world’s 4th richest man happens to be a Mexican. He also knows Donald well and has read his books. He understands Donald’s MO and sees Pres Trump as a great opportunity for his country

    “Trump’s strategy, according to Slim, is to shock and provoke. But in the end, Slim said, Trump’s “not a terminator, he’s a negotiator”

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  28th January 2017

      Aljaz had an item an hour or so ago saying, I think, that the two prez’s have had a yack on the blower today & agreed they can probably work something out & also let’s not talk about it in public any more?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th January 2017

        Talking about The Wall, that is …

        Reply
          • Gezza

             /  28th January 2017

            Damn I hate it when Al’s right. Four on the board now Al.

            Reply
          • Conspiratoor

             /  28th January 2017

            Not that it matters G, but Donald made no such promise. From your link “The White House in a statement confirmed the call with Peña Nieto had taken place. But while the statement is nearly identical to Mexico’s, it does not explicitly state that Trump has agreed to not discuss the wall in public.”

            Did you listen to the audio. Trump is totally consistent on one theme – I am here to represent the interests of the United States. Cheers,c

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  28th January 2017

              This why you have no points on the board yet. I keep the scoreboard. You should study Al & learn to be more humble in victory like he is.

            • Gezza

               /  28th January 2017

              I am formulating an hypothesis concerning The DOTUS’s narcissism. When I am more sure I am on the right track I may discuss it with you further.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  28th January 2017

              When I grow up I want to be like Sir Al

            • Gezza

               /  28th January 2017

              Well, ok, but don’t be as bloody mingy with the upticks. I’m giving you one in the board for those. Good lad.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  28th January 2017

              You’re looking in the wrong place G. The greatest shycologist of the 20th century saw a solid dose of narcissism as a positive thing, Dwell on this and then ask yourself how his kids turned out to be so goddamn well balanced…

              “People with a solid sense of self-esteem will be better able to find the balance between being overly dependent or overly self-reliant. They can be self-sufficient but still capable of intimacy. At the same time, they may be the ones to be better at parenting. Because they don’t need to see their children as an extension of themselves, they will be more likely to produce mentally healthier children. The adaptive narcissists will not be helicopter parents, but will give their children greater room to grow on their own terms”

            • Gezza

               /  28th January 2017

              Duck doo. Details later. Still working on the theory.

            • Gezza

               /  28th January 2017

              Hint: Think magician.

    • Trumps strategy was to play on ‘Middle American’ people’s fears, mainly Whites I reckon, by dogging on Mexicans to become POTUS …

      “The reclusive billionaire Carlos Slim, who rarely addresses the media, held a news conference for more than an hour to discuss the “civilizational changes” underway and to warn that a proposal to impose punitive tariffs or a tax on Mexican goods would come back to bite American consumers and make the U.S. economy less competitive …

      Slim predicted an “arduous and difficult negotiation” with the Trump administration but said Mexico has its own economic strengths, and he expressed surprise and satisfaction over his country’s “national unity” in the face of Trump’s “challenge.”

      Still, others were less sanguine about what lies ahead. Gov. Graco Ramírez of Morelos state told a Mexican newspaper that Trump has declared “war” on Mexico and that dialogue with the U.S. president was already “exhausted.””

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mexico-digs-in-and-trump-lashes-back-as-border-wall-standoff-deepens/2017/01/27/7279c196-e41c-11e6-a419-eefe8eff0835_story.html

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  28th January 2017

        You reckon? I reckon Trump thinks middle america is quite keen to see folks who want to immigrate to the US, to do so by legal means. Silly, irrational stuff I know, but hey that’s the yanks for you

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  28th January 2017

        Trumpy will be chuckling at WaPo knawing on the public spat while the real deals are being made in private.

        Reply
        • Hail President Trump … Emperor of Dissemblance and Duplicity …

          We must seek out, and eagerly await, a ‘Kiwi’ leader to emulate him …

          Such ‘values’ …

          Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  28th January 2017

        Slim is a businessman. He understands negotiation. He understands Trump’s best cards and he’s trying to rally his political troops and give them a steer on defence and negotiation. He knows Mexico can’t afford a stand-off and he’s trying to pre-empt that.

        Reply

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