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Mexico strikes back with tariffs on US pork

Mexico introduces tariffs on US pork, to the disappointment of the US pork business. In terms of volume, Mexico is the most important export market for US pork and pork products.

The Mexican announcement came as part of a retaliation package to US president Trump’s announcement to add tariffs for steel and aluminium. Allied countries like Canada, Mexico and the EU are not exempted from these tariffs. So far, Canada has chosen to retaliate by imposing tariffs on other products than pork.

A truck on its way in the south of the US. American pork in Mexico is going to become more expensive due to tariffs. Photo: Shutterstock
A truck on its way in the south of the US. American pork in Mexico is going to become more expensive due to tariffs. Photo: Shutterstock

The Mexican government announced a 10% tariff on unprocessed pork (not including variety meats) and this will grow to 20% on July 5. In 2017, Mexico imported 800,000 metric tonnes of pork from the USA, totalling a value of US$ 1.5 billion.

Devastating to US pork producing families

In a press release, shared by the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), president Jim Heimerl said, “The toll on rural America from escalating trade disputes with critically important trade partners is mounting. Mexico is US pork’s largest export market, representing nearly 25% of all US pork shipments last year. A 20% tariff eliminates our ability to compete effectively in Mexico. This is devastating to my family and pork producing families across the United States.”

Read more on US pork production in our Country Focus Tool

Mr Heimerl continued to say, “We appreciate the variety of interests and issues the Trump administration is balancing in its trade negotiations with Mexico, China and other countries. While producers are trying to be good soldiers, we’re taking on water fast. The president has said that he would not abandon farmers. We take him at his word.”

Iowa and most of the US agricultural states in the Mid-West voted for Mr Trump in the 2016 US general elections. Iowa did so after having elected a Democrat candidate twice in a row.

Mexico’s measure cast shadow over WPX

The Mexican measure cast a shadow over a generally optimistic and good atmosphere at the World Pork Expo, the US’ annual get-together of the swine business, held 6-8 June in Des Moines, IA. At a press conference Mr Heimerl and his colleagues at NPPC , expressed their disappointment using similar phrases as in the press release.

When asked to whom Mr Heimerl was addressing his words – to the US administration to sing a different song or the Mexican government for choosing pork to introduce retaliatory tariffs – Mr Heimerl was clear in saying he hoped the US administration would change its course.

Mexico is the 2nd country to recently impose tariffs on US pork. China also did so early April with imposing an additional 25%.

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