Idaho's International Trade Officials Offer Optimism Despite Lingering Talk Of Trade Wars

Jan 11, 2019

Idaho's top trade representative in Mexico City, Fabiola McClellan, briefed lawmakers this week on the Gem State's commercial relationship with Mexico. She reported tariffs have impacted revenue, but she thinks by the end of the fiscal year modest gains could be made.
Credit 3mb.o / Flickr

The heads of the Gem State’s foreign trade offices in Mexico, China and Taiwan briefed the Idaho Senate Commerce Committee this week. The international officials say they’re optimistic about future business despite ongoing talk of trade wars.

So far, Idaho has exported about $3.3 billion-worth of goods in fiscal year 2018. That’s expected to rise to $4 billion by June. While Idaho trades with countries around the world, nearby Canada and Mexico are the Gem State’s biggest trading partners claiming a quarter of all exports.

One of the officials to brief legislators was Fabiola McClellan. She leads the state’s trade office in Mexico City. She says tit-for-tat tariffs between the U.S. and Mexico are likely staying in place.

“Until the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are eliminated, we don’t foresee the import tariffs – or the retaliatory tariffs – to be taken away,” says McClellan.

According to her, those tariffs have had real impacts on business between Idaho and Mexico.

“We lost about $15 million worth of potato business due to the 20 percent tariff that was added,” McClellan told lawmakers. “We’ve lost about $14 million worth of revenue coming from the 25 percent tariff on dairy. We’ve lost about $1.1 million on the pork and ham exports.”

While that sounds bad, McClellan says Idaho exports to Mexico have remained steady and could even show slight increases by the end of the fiscal year.

The heads of the Chinese and Taiwanese trade offices reported their respective nations each buy semiconductors and industrial machinery made in the Gem State. So far, exports to China have totaled over $350 million this year.

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