October 11, 2017
A front-page NYT piece warned that Trump may actually carry through on his threat to pull out of NAFTA. In recounting the fallout from a collapse of the agreement, the paper tells readers:
“If the deal does fall apart, the United States, Canada and Mexico would revert to average tariffs that are relatively low — just a few percent in most cases. But several agricultural products would face much higher duties. American farmers would see a 25 percent tariff on shipments of beef, 45 percent on turkey and some dairy products, and 75 percent on chicken, potatoes and high fructose corn syrup sent to Mexico.”
The tariffs reported for agricultural exports to Mexico are the pre-NAFTA level. Mexico would not necessarily raise its tariffs to these levels since it would mean large price increases to their consumers. Governments usually don’t like to impose large taxes on their citizens, especially just before an election. (Mexico has a presidential election next summer.) While it is worth pointing out the past history of tariffs on these items and that Mexico would certainly have the right to raise them to pre-NAFTA levels, the NYT’s assumption that it would raise tariffs by this amount is unwarranted.