Produce, Auto Parts, Electronics: How Mexico Tariff Could Cost Consumers

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LAREDO (CBSDFW.COM) – The economic impact of President Trump’s executive order to build a U.S./Mexico border wall is already being felt in Laredo.

It’s the largest port of entry for imported goods from Mexico where every day some 12,000 trucks cross over.

“This is the most important bridge on the border. Forty percent of the traffic crosses through Laredo, and most of that traffic crosses through this particular bridge,” said President of Laredo’s Chamber of Commerce, Miguel Conchas.

He said that last year Laredo saw some $280 billion in goods cross the border.

“We see everything under the sun that comes through. Electronics, auto parts, and produce.”

And now that the Trump administration is considering a 5 to 20 percent tax increase on the goods to pay for the controversial border wall, many importers who deal in produce are left concerned how it will impact their business.

“Maybe it will slow down the business – yes,” said Rodolfo Delgado.

Delgado said the ripple effect means the cost is passed down to the consumer.

He used strawberries as an example, saying prices would jump from $4 a dozen to $5.50. And Americans will have no choice but to pay the increase, because the U.S. food supply isn’t in abundance, according to Delgado.

“We don’t produce here in the states enough food to feed everybody, and if we plant it we don’t have enough labor to harvest it,” he said.

Even some supporters of the wall in Laredo worry about the economic hit from an import tax.

“I’m not as much in favor of that. I think there’s other ways to do it,” said Webb County Republican party chair Randy Blair.

However, if it came down to it, Blair said so be it.

“If it’s spread out and all consumers are going to pay for their own protection. I think people will swallow it much easier,” he said.

But for importers like Delgado, merely hoping for the best while preparing for change is one positive approach.

“It’s going to be a rough road but we will find a way to solve it.”

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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