President Trump's statements on Friday that he was "likely" to close down the U.S-Mexico border has raised concerns among his won party and industry members. Losses of billions of dollars in trade including in food imports are expected if the plan falls through
President Donald Trump has once again brought back his old rhetoric of closing the border to Mexico over fears of illegal migration. Last year, Trump also made similar threats but did not follow it through with actual action. However, if he does act on it this time, it is set to severely hit American imports of fresh fruits and vegetable, reports NBC News. The U.S. relies heavily on its neighbor for such produce. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 40 percent of all imported fruit comes from Mexico and around half of all imported vegetables to the country also come from Mexico. Just to put things into perspective, the closing of the U.S-Mexico order would mean that Americans would run out of avocados in a matter of weeks. If there's one fruit that Americans love more than any other, it's avocados. Americans were spending nearly $900,000 per month on avocado toasts in 2017 according to Square, a credit card company, reports Time. In 2014, the figure was just $17,000 per month. The company arrived at these figures by compiling data from sellers who use its services. In fact, in 2017 Americans bought $2.28 billion worth of avocados according to Journal Star.
Closing the border would therefore not be a good idea and many people and organizations, have conveyed the same to the President. Some of these are people from his own party and members of American industries. Mission Produce is the largest distributor and grower of avocados in the world. NBC News quoted the company's president and chief executive, Steve Barnard who said that Americans would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from Mexico were stopped.
Barnard added, "You couldn't pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they're not relevant right now and won't be for another month or so." Along with avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries and raspberries also come from Mexico. On Friday Trump said that there was "very good likelihood" he would close the border if Mexico did not stop immigrants from reaching the United States.
Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border! This will also help us with stopping the Drug flow from Mexico!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2019
Trump has no understanding about how international trade and our economy works. Closing the US-Mexico border would be a total and complete economic disaster. Every year $616 billion in goods and services are exchanged between the US and Mexico. That’s $1.6 billion per day.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 30, 2019
There are genuine fears of illegal migration, no doubt, especially considering the fact that many from Central American countries have landed at the US-Mexico border expecting asylum. However, a complete shutdown would disrupt millions of legal border crossings and most of all billions of dollars in trade. Food import from Mexico accounts for $137 billion alone. Monica Ganley from Quarterra, a consultancy specializing in Latin American agricultural issues and trade, said, "When a border is closed or barriers to trade are put in place I absolutely expect there would be an impact on consumers."
She added, "We're absolutely going to see higher prices. This is a very real and very relevant concern for American consumers." The effects of a shutdown, however, would run both ways. The U.S is also the largest exporter of refined fuels like diesel and gasoline to Mexico. It is unclear if rail terminals would be affected by closures. With changing taste and palates, demand for fresh produce has increased and the U.S. has become heavily dependent on Mexico to meet demands.
A number of border-state Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also expressed their concern at Trump's latest announcements according to USA Today. "The president made that statement out of frustration. I don't think he's going to actually shut off the border. It would have a significant impact on our economy," Texas Rep. Michael McCaul told a form on Monday. McCaul is also the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., said, "I understand the president’s frustration, but the unintended consequences of that, I think, would be bad for everybody." Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, "Even threatening to close the border to legitimate commerce and travel creates a degree of economic uncertainty that risks compromising the very gains in growth and productivity that policies of the Trump administration have helped achieve.” An estimated $502 billion in goods crossed the border in trucks and trains last year, roughly $1.4 billion a day according to the Commerce Department.