Food Industry

A Trump Mexican Import Tax Could See Miami Pay More for Avocados, Tequila, and Beer

Avocado pizza
Photo by Gabriela Rodriguez
Avocado pizza
Most presidential candidates make far-fetched campaign promises. Donald Trumps' main doozy was erecting a "yuge" wall between Mexico and the United States and then making our southern neighbors pay for it.

Usually, these pie-in-the-sky ideas fall by the wayside once the real day-to-day job of leading the free world becomes a reality. Trump, however, is hell-bent on building that wall; he signed an executive order to do just that this week. But instead of making Mexico pay, he's considering a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico — or not.

Yesterday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump was considering the tax levy on imports. Just a few hours later, Spicer backed down, saying the tax was just one idea on how the controversial wall could be funded.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Mexico was the United States' third-largest supplier of imports in 2015, with $295 billion worth of goods coming into our country from Mexico.

Along with vehicles, electrical machinery, mineral fuels, and optical and medical equipment, Mexico supplies a vast number of agricultural products to the States. It's our second-largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include fresh vegetables ($4.8 billion), other fresh fruit ($4.3 billion), wine and beer ($2.7 billion), snack foods ($1.7 billion), and processed fruits and vegetables ($1.4 billion).

Huahua Taqueria's Todd Erickson says levying a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports would affect how restaurateurs buy their ingredients — and how they price their food and drinks. A prime example is the avocado. "Mexico is our main source for avocados, and because of its popularity, they're already expensive. If there was a 20 percent tax, prices would have to rise."

A tax on Mexican avocados wouldn't mean restaurants and consumers could simply switch to domestic produce for a bargain, Erickson says. "My guess is that since California avocado growers follow the market, their prices would rise with the price of Mexican imports because they could get the increase."

That margarita you're about to enjoy could also come with a hefty price tag. "It's a disaster when you factor in taxes on mezcal, tequila, and Mexican beer. It's just not smart," the chef says.

Erickson points out that the tariff is still just speculation and that there are worse things that could happen in the world than paying more for our meals. "It's hard to get upset about avocados and limes when human rights violations are happening."