At the end of May, U.S. President Trump imposed import tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada. This could have a significant economic impact far beyond the steel and aluminum industries.
On the heels of this announcement, Mexico declared they, in turn, will levy tariffs on imports of U.S. products including pork, cheese, potatoes and, you guessed it, Washington State apples. And, as the largest foreign customer for Washington State Apple Growers, the effects of these tariffs will hit those in our own backyard.
How might this effect our local economy?
As widely known, Washington exports apples across the globe. This has a huge impact to our local economy — not only for the companies that grow, pack and ship apples, but also for the workers who harvest them. Mexico is the largest export market for Washington Apple Growers. Each year, Washington exports $200-$250 million in apples to Mexico, which is approximately 10 percent of its total market. Mexico's recent announcement to impose their own tariffs on apple imports from the U.S. means that Washington apple growers have to find other markets, to export apples. Perhaps, shipping to other states within the U.S. or exporting to other countries who do not impose import tariffs. Regardless of where these new buys come from, creating and fostering those relationships does not happen overnight.
While the Trump administration says the goal of these import tariffs is to improve American manufacturing and protect U.S. steel and aluminum producers, members of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives disagree. Many fear that American farmers and American companies will lose their foreign markets due to these import tariffs, which could take years to get back if tariffs are ever lifted. Additionally, these tariffs could end up hurting not only the growers in our state, but also families across Washington and the larger Washington economy.
What will be the lasting impact?
On the surface, it may seem these import tariffs could benefit American makers of steel and aluminum by making foreign metals more expensive. However, a lasting negative impact on other U.S. companies, the economy, and consumers across the country is quite possible. Only time will tell the true impact of these tariffs on the U.S., and how long the impact will last.
We will update you as additional information on this topic emerges.
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