US bor­der town fears pos­si­ble tax on im­ports

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in No­gales, Ari­zona

For up to 16 hours a day, to­ma­toes, pep­pers, cu­cum­bers and mangoes grown in Mex­ico flow north through a bor­der check­point into No­gales, Ari­zona, help­ing to en­sure a year-round sup­ply of fresh pro­duce across the United States.

This is a city built on cross­bor­der trade.

Each year, some 330,000 trucks and 75,000 train cars car­ry­ing $17 bil­lion worth of goods move through No­gales, ac­cord­ing to US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion. Econ­o­mists es­ti­mate trade sup­ports nearly one in three jobs here, rang­ing from work­ers who in­spect the goods to fork­lift op­er­a­tors who un­load them in dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters.

In many ways, No­gales rep­re­sents the flip side of free trade deals that have bat­tered in­dus­trial cities in the Mid­west, where jobs have been out­sourced and man­u­fac­tur­ing plants shut down. The cities where Don­ald Trump’s prom­ise to throt­tle what he calls unfair com­pe­ti­tion res­onated most pro­foundly dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Tall, rusted fence

It also rep­re­sents po­ten­tial risks that new trade bar­ri­ers could pose for busi­nesses and res­i­dents along the bor­der. Only a tall, rusted fence sep­a­rates No­gales, Ari­zona, from No­gales, Mex­ico; the cities are so in­ter­twined that lo­cals call them by a sin­gle name, “Am­bos No­gales” or “Both No­gales”.

Now in of­fice, Trump is con­sid­er­ing a 20 per­cent tax on im­ports from Mex­ico, one of sev­eral ideas un­der re­view in Wash­ing­ton, and is promis­ing to rene­go­ti­ate the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

More than a dozen city offi- cials, em­ploy­ers and work­ers in­ter­viewed here said a bor­der tax, if en­acted, could choke the flow of im­ports from Mex­ico. They de­scribed a chain of events that would harm the econ­omy, threaten lo­cal jobs and lead to higher prices for US con­sumers.

“Pres­i­dent Trump should take a good look at the ef­fects of what­ever he does, be­cause he’s go­ing to end up with a real prob­lem,” said No­gales Mayor John Doyle, who joined other law­mak­ers from Ari­zona, New Mex­ico and Texas in de­nounc­ing the im­port tax plan in let­ters to US law­mak­ers.

Pres­i­dent Trump should take a good look at the ef­fects of what­ever he does.” John Doyle, No­gales mayor

Food, au­tos and elec­tron­ics go both ways across the bor­der check­point, some­times more than once. Mex­i­can mangoes and mel­ons come north while Cal­i­for­nia al­monds and ap­ples from Wash­ing­ton state go south. US car parts sent to Mex­i­can fac­to­ries are im­ported back as fin­ished ve­hi­cles.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said that any tax deal would pro­tect US in­ter­ests.

“US peo­ple can rest as­sured that any pol­icy Pres­i­dent Trump pur­sues will be de­signed to in­crease wages for Amer­i­can work­ers, re­duce the US trade deficit, and strengthen the econ­omy so that it works for all,” a White House of­fi­cial said in an email.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.