Mexico import tax threatens Oregon economy, officials warn

Avocados imported from Mexico

Mexico is the No. 11 market for Oregon exported goods — and the No. 6 market for Oregon imported goods.

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President Trump triggered a new fight over trade yesterday as the White House proposed a 20% tax on imports from Mexico to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tax would have a negative impact on Oregon trade and businesses, says Nathan Buehler, a spokesperson for Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency.

Mexican imports from Oregon were valued at $407 million in 2015, according to the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research, an international trade database. The imports consist primarily of computer and electronic products, industrial machinery, food and wood products.

That same year, Oregon imported $713 million in goods from Mexico — mostly semi-trucks and electrical machinery.

“Mexico is a significant trade partner,” Buehler says. “It’s also a diverse set of Oregon products that goes to Mexico, not just one particular industry.”

Mexico is the No. 11 market for Oregon exported goods and the No. 6 country for goods imported into the state.

The levy could lead to a bigger trade war as Mexico may retaliate by imposing a comparable tarriff on U.S. imports. “That would impact the small businesses we’ve been working with to grow revenues back in Oregon by selling goods in Mexico,” Buehler says.
He cites Eugene-based Deployed Logix as an example. The company exports rescue/disaster preparedness products to Mexico.
Other consumer goods make it into Oregon from Mexico, but don’t show up in Oregon data because they first enter through another state. 
“Avocados are a good example,” Buehler says. “The data shows $0 in avocados in 2013 and 2014, and only $8,725 worth of avocados in 2015.  But California and Texas import $1.3 billion worth of avocado imports from Mexico. Some of those avocados then make their way to Oregon.”
Asked to comment on Trump’s proposals, Francisco Pena, Oregon’s Mexican Consul General, sent the following email to Oregon Business:

“Regarding the construction of the wall, the President of Mexico stated that our country does not believe in walls, considering far from uniting us, they divide us. He regrets and condemns the decision of continuing the construction of a wall.”

In an August interview, Pena noted that an increasing number of Mexicans are returning to the U.S. “The reality is equilibrium. The rate of new people is zero,” he said.