April 3, 2019
President Donald Trump’s has threatened again this week to close the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing his all-out effort to coerce the political leaders of both nations to block South American immigrants from coming across.
However, even a brief shutdown at America’s southern border would strain the economies of both nations by disrupting billions of dollars in trade, about $137 billion of which is in food imports.
Nearly 50% of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40% of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture.
From avocado toast to margaritas, American shoppers—who are heavily reliant on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables, and alcohol—quickly would become bereft.
Indeed, the stoppage quickly would become “hard to swallow” for U.S. residents—especially those who love avocados, according to a report by Reuters. Those of us north of the border would run out of avocados in three weeks, if imports from Mexico were cut off, according to Steve Barnard, CEO of Mission Produce, the largest distributor and grower of avocados in the world.
“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100% of the avocados in the United Stated 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,” Barnard said in an interview with Reuters.
In addition to avocados, the majority of imported tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, and raspberries come from Mexico. While there are other sources of produce globally, opening those trade channels would take time.
And shortages of fruit and vegetables will rack up the already-soaring prices at the cash register.
On the other side of the border, Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. exports of refined fuels like diesel and gasoline, some of which moves by rail. It is unclear if rail terminals would be affected by closures.
Research contact: @Reuters