Mexico Hits Back At Trump With Pork, Bourbon Tariffs

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Mexico Hits Back At Trump With Pork, Bourbon Tariffs

Mexico imposed wide-ranging tariffs on American products ranging from steel to pork and bourbon on Tuesday, responding to President Donald Trump's metals tariffs and taking aim at Republican strongholds ahead of US congressional elections in November.

Mexico's retaliation further raises trade tensions between the two countries, which have been echoed in dealings between Washington and Ottawa. Last week, Trump rattled some of the closest US allies by removing an exemption to tariffs on imported steel and aluminium that his administration had granted to Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

Bilateral Deals

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow revived the possibility that the President will seek to replace the trillion-dollar North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with bilateral deals with Canada and Mexico.

Following news of the Mexican tariffs, which take effect immediately, the peso tumbled to its weakest level since February 2017, leading losses among major currencies.

Mexico's retaliatory list included a 20% tariff on US pork legs and shoulders, apples and potatoes, and 20%-25% duties on types of cheeses and bourbon, the Mexican economy ministry said via the government's official gazette.


A range of US steel products will be hit by 15%-25% tariffs. Mexico is a net importer of US steel.

Separately, Mexico opened a tariff-free quota for pork imports from other countries.

New Markets

It was not immediately clear from where Mexican importers would buy pork under the quota, which, it said, was opened to avoid an increase in the price of the meat used in many traditional dishes. Number-two supplier Canada enjoys duty-free access to Mexico under NAFTA, while the European Union was already gearing up to export more to Mexico under a recently reworked trade pact.

Brazil is another potential beneficiary.


Mexico’s trade negotiators designed the list, in part, to include products exported by top Republican leaders' states, including Indiana, where Vice-President Mike Pence was formerly governor, according to a trade source familiar with the matter.

Bourbon-producing Kentucky is the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mexico announced its response to Trump's move late last week, with a focus on products from congressional districts that Trump's Republican party is fighting to retain in November's mid-term elections. It did not provide details of tariff levels or a full list of products at the time.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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