Mexico tariffs would hit $2.9 billion in Wisconsin imports

Trump threatening 5% tariff starting June 10 over immigration

Manufacturing plant

Wisconsin imported around $2.9 billion in goods from Mexico in 2018, accounting for 9.4% of the state’s nearly $31 billion in imports during the year.

The 5% tariff President Donald Trump plans to apply on goods from Mexico would hit all products starting June 10. Trump is using the tariffs to push Mexico to address immigration at the U.S. southern border. The tariff could increase by an additional 5% each month until reaching 25% on Oct. 1.

The tariffs are separate from the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement or USMCA that the Trump administration negotiated as a replacement for NAFTA.

Kevin McAllenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters Friday the administration is looking for Mexico to increase enforcement at its southern border, crack down on “transnational criminal organizations” helping to move migrants through Mexico and to create alignment on asylum standards.

“We fully believe they have the ability to stop people coming from their southern border,” Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, said. “And if they’re able to do that, these tariffs will either not go into place or will be removed after they go into place. That is separate and apart from the USMCA, which is a trade matter. These are not tariffs as part of a trade dispute. These are tariffs as part of an immigration problem.”

Mexico was the fourth biggest source of imports into Wisconsin last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. China led the way, shipping $8.17 billion in goods to the state, followed by Canada at $4.81 billion and Ireland at $3.25 billion.

Imports to Wisconsin from Mexico were down 1.1% in 2018 and decreased by nearly 16% in the first quarter of 2019. Wisconsin’s global imports increased nearly 12% last year but have decreased 5% in the first quarter of 2019.

Wisconsin’s reliance on Mexican imports is the 21st highest in the country. Four states – Arizona, Michigan, Texas and New Mexico – get more than 30% of their imports from Mexico.

The top Mexican imports in Wisconsin last year included $178.9 million in road tractors for semi-trailers, accounting for 99% of road tractors shipped into the states.

Mexico was also the source for 89% or $133.6 million of lead acid batteries shipped into Wisconsin, 77% or $78.6 million of imported refrigerating and freezing equipment and 47% or $41.9 million worth of parts and accessories of motor vehicles.

Other major imports included liquid meters, base metal padlocks, active yeasts, fruit and edible plant parts, curtains and interior blinds and refined, unwrought lead.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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