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Tariffs on Mexico imports could have outsized impact on San Diego

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Posted at 4:22 PM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 19:42:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego business leaders reacted with alarm to President Trump's plan to slap tariffs on goods imported from Mexico.

On June 10, the President plans to place a 5% tariff on items like avocados, tomatoes, cars and medical devices that come from south of the border. They would increase until reaching 25% on Oct 1. Trump says the tariffs would continue until Mexico addresses the issue of migrants at the border.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has come out strong against the tariffs. The Chamber says Mexico is San Diego's biggest trade partner, with a $2.5 billion manufacturing supply chain that's now at risk.

Jerry Sanders, the chamber's CEO, says every manufacturing job in Tijuana leads to half a new job in San Diego.

"If consumers cut back because of the price of goods, that means there will be fewer jobs and there will be less production on both sides of the border," he said.

Some consumers already appear wary.

Mancher Nasar, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, said he expects his grocery bill to rise as the tariffs kick in.

"I'm concerned about middle class families," he said. "You're putting a 25% tariff but you're not getting 25% more in your paycheck."

University of San Diego economist Alan Gin said tariffs are normally used for economic purposes, not political ones.

"This is as far out as we've ever seen in the use of tariffs," Gin said.

Gin said San Diegans will feel them, but that states like Texas and New Mexico will fare worse. Gin said that's because a lot of the manufacturing belt in Mexico is in the central part of the country.