On the border: Possible tax on Mexican goods worries some U.S. businesses

Mexico border tax

LAREDO, Texas -- On Friday, there was no dispute, apparently, over who would pay for the call. TheAmerican and Mexican presidents talked by phone -- after the Mexican president canceled a summit meeting in the dispute over who will pay for the wall.

The Trump administration is thinking of a tax on Mexican goods, and that worries some American businesses.

Every day, more than 5,000 trucks cross the World Trade International Bridge from Mexico into Laredo, Texas -- carrying goods processed by warehouses like Jose Gonzalez’s.

“I have merchandise that goes throughout the United States, a lot of these are going to grocery stores,” Gonzales says.

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Every day, more than 5,000 trucks cross the World Trade International Bridge from Mexico into Laredo, Texas -- carrying goods processed by warehouses. CBS Evening News

Gonzalez believes the possible 20 percent import tax on those items might cause a decline in the flow of goods across the border.

“We know we are going to take a hit, of a loss of business, we just don’t know how much it will be,” Gonzalez said.

The United States imports more than $290 billion worth of goods from Mexico. Cars are the number one import, meaning U.S. autos assembled there could cost thousands more. A tariff could impact food prices too. More than 70 percent of tomatoes come from Mexico, and 90 percent of Haas avocados.

And Mexico could retaliate by imposing similar tariffs on goods and services sold from the U.S. Already in Mexico, hashtags saying “adios,” or “goodbye,” to Walmart, Starbucks and Coca-Cola are trending.

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The United States imports more than $290 billion worth of goods from Mexico.  CBS Evening News

President Trump on Friday admitted some of the costs might go to consumers but believed the tax would help the U.S. overall.

“They’ve made us look foolish. We have a trade deficit of $60 billion with Mexico,” Mr. Trump said.

But David French, with the National Retail Federation, believes a tariff to fund the border wall is risky.

“Everybody from the largest retailer down to the smallest retailer has looked at their books and this is unworkable for retailers, and ultimately the consumer is going to be the one who pays the price,” he said.

But it’s not just about the price of the goods in these trucks crossing the border. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.