Not content with a trade war just with China, Donald Trump has opened a second front in what is slowly turning into a trade world war. Yesterday evening, Trump announced that beginning June 10th a 5% tariff would be slapped on all Mexican products coming into the country. That tariff would increase to 10% by July 1st and then go to its 25% maximum in October. For automakers with razor thin margins, there is absolute certainty that the American consumer will end up paying these tariffs.
The White House said in a statement:
If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed. If the crisis persists, however, the Tariffs will be raised to 10 percent on July 1, 2019. Similarly, if Mexico still has not taken action to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States, Tariffs will be increased to 15 percent on August 1, 2019, to 20 percent on September 1, 2019, and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019. Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.
Goods from Mexico account for 13.6 percent of all imported goods to the U.S, totaling about $346.5 billion. Automobiles and their components are high on the list of goods that are imported from Mexico. Further complicating matters is that components can move over the border up to 20 times before reaching their final assembly location.
General Motors and other domestic manufacturers are going to be hit especially hard. GM imported 811,000 vehicles from Mexico last year. One of their recent vehicles, the Chevrolet Blazer, caused a stir for being Mexican built when it was put on display at Comerica Park in Detroit at a time when GM was closing five U.S. manufacturing facilities. General Motors eventually took the display down and replaced it with a US built Traverse.
Stocks fell sharply Friday morning in response to the tariff announcement.