The first wave of new tariffs that could be imposed on imports from Mexico on June 10 likely won’t affect prices much in Santa Fe stores with Mexican products, merchants said.
President Donald Trump proposed putting a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports, with potential increases reaching 25 percent in October.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.6 percent of New Mexico’s imports in 2018 came from Mexico.
Gov. Michelle Lujan, meanwhile, said Friday a trade war between the U.S. and Mexico eventually could have widespread negative effects on employment and economic development in New Mexico, where she said 15,000 direct jobs are based on exports, including $1.42 billion worth that go to Mexico each year. She listed a number of businesses in Albuquerque and Southern New Mexico that she said would be affected by tariffs, mostly small- and medium-sized employers.
Tariffs could affect the cost of everything from Mexican beer and avocados to handmade items sold in local import shops.
Artesanos Imports Co. in Santa Fe imports 70 percent of its products from Mexico. These include tile, lighting fixtures, hardware and leather furniture.
“I don’t think 5 percent is going to be a huge impact for us,” Artesanos owner Fernando Gomez said. “Some of our suppliers said they will eat that. If it goes much over 10 percent, we’ll see an increase in prices for our consumers. We haven’t had a price increase on a lot of our products for six or seven years.”
Carlos Andre, owner of El Paisano Supermarket on Cerrillos Road, is trying to buy as much product as he can from his Mexican suppliers before the tariff kicks in. About 80 percent of El Paisano merchandise comes from Mexico, he said.
“Right now, I’m trying to get with my vendors to give me an opportunity to buy more before the tariff increase,” Andre said.
For now, Andre plans to increase prices half the amount of the tariff. He said shopper buying habits may have to change if tariffs keep increasing.
“If they don’t have the opportunity [to pay more], they will have to buy basic foods, not the ones that have a high cost,” Andre said.
Jonathan Williams, co-owner of Tesoros Trading Co. on Canyon Road, said he thinks the tariff is wrongheaded.
“It seems to me to be the total opposite of what should be done,” Williams said. “[Trump] should promote small business in Mexico so they don’t have to come to America.”
Tesoros imports about 25 percent of its wholesale products and 25 percent of retail merchandise sold on Canyon Road and in Austin, Texas.
“You can maybe absorb a 5 percent tariff, but it gets difficult at 10 or 20 percent [to not raise prices],” Williams said.
Mata Ortiz pottery from Mexico makes up about 5 percent of the inventory at Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery on West San Francisco Street.
“Basically, what it’s doing is making artists be more careful with what they bring to us,” said Derek Fisher, marketing director at Andrea Fisher. “They are sending us photographs first. I have no idea how it will affect the bottom line for us. I don’t know what the change will be. It’s a complicated can of worms.”