Tariffs on Mexico

There is some hue and cry over President Donald Trump’s threatened tariff on Mexico in an effort to get the Mexican government to take seriously its role in the crisis on our common border.

Critics of the tariffs, including those within the administration, have said the ratification of the pact would be threatened by the tariffs.

There’s no threat to ratification of the USMCA from these tariffs. There is a threat from the Progressive-Democrats who hate the treaty separately from this.  However, the lack of threat is illustrated by Mexico; since the tariff threat, that government has said it still intends to ratify the treaty.

On the other hand, critics of the present tariff threat are conflating the two purposes of tariffs. One is as protectionist devices; these are the tariffs that are targets of the USMCA, and they remain controlled by the agreement.

The other purpose is as a foreign policy tool used to induce another nation to do/not do the things identified by a particular tariff-as-foreign policy tool’s stated purpose.

The threatened tariff is not at all a protectionist tariff. On the contrary, it’s a foreign policy tool, a take-your-own-immigration-laws-seriously tariff.

Update: The foreign policy tool seems to have worked. Of course, we’ll have to see the realization over time, but that’s the case with all agreements.

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