EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — American factories are trying to avoid the new 5% tariff on Mexican goods that goes into effect on Monday by bringing their manufactured goods from Juarez on Friday.
“The maquiladoras were already being affected by the reassignment of (Customs and Border Protection) officers who inspect their goods at the border. That presented a challenge to the movement of merchandise because you have fewer lanes open and fewer people processing the cargo,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association.
“Now what’s happening is that there’s a scramble to get merchandise across the border; you are seeing a lot of companies trying to get their trucks across before Monday, in case the tariff is implemented.”
President Trump said he would slap a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods coming across the border beginning on June 10 (next Monday) unless Mexico stops migrants from Central America and other countries from coming to the U.S. border.
Immigration agencies here have been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of migrants who are coming across every month seeking asylum in the U.S.
Trump insists Mexico is doing little to stem the tide and that the tariff on Mexican goods will go up another 5% each month until it’s capped at 25%.
But this presents a problem for American companies that send materials to be manufactured in border cities like Juarez. The finished goods, which may contain between 40% and 90% American content, would be subject to the tariff at the border.
Despite hours-long waits for inspection at El Paso-area ports of entry, maquilas are trying to have their truckers make multiple “runs” to get all their merchandise across today, Pacheco said.
“I can tell you the truck traffic at Santa Teresa (port of entry) is definitely up,” he said. “It’s a growing industrial base and, with trucks taking up to seven hours to cross the El Paso international bridges, we have faster crossing times. Companies are bringing more merchandise right now because of the threat of the 5% tariff.”
Customs and Border Protection officials declined to comment on the spike in commercial truck traffic volume today, referring questions to the White House. Mexican and American negotiators continue to meet to hash out a possible solution before Monday.
Pacheco said maquiladora operators are definitely in a rush.
“Everybody is acting like the tariff is going to happen because they don’t want to be caught flat-footed if it does,” he said.