WASHINGTON — If President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to close the US-Mexico border, it would disrupt the flow of $1.7 billion of goods daily to store shelves and factory floors — including not just avocados, but beer and car parts, too.
The United States gets nearly 90% of its avocado imports from Mexico, and one of America’s biggest suppliers, Mission Produce, has warned that the US could run out of the trendy toast-topper in just three weeks.
But shutting down the border would do more than cut into the country’s guacamole supply. Strawberries, tomatoes and bell peppers are sent north from Mexico. Americans also buy more than $4.6 billion a year in beer, wine and alcohol — including tequila — from its southern neighbor, according the the Census Bureau.
The United States is the country’s largest agricultural trading partner, buying 78% of Mexican exports and supplying 69% of the country’s imports, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
A border closure would squeeze US corn, soybean and dairy farmers, too, if they can’t ship their produce into Mexico.
The spokesman for the American Farm Bureau told CNN that $13.7 million in agricultural products flow across the border daily just through the port of entry in Nogales, Arizona.
“Just a few hours’ delay can potentially ruin whatever is in those trucks,” he said.
Mexican manufacturers are also highly integrated in US supply chains and the closure could disrupt business for a variety of American businesses. The biggest import categories from Mexico are cars and trucks, machinery, medical instruments and fossil fuels.
One economist predicted this week that the entire US auto industry would shut down within a week if the President closes the border, because every US auto plant depends on parts made in Mexico.
Trump threatened to close the border this week amid a rising crisis of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.
He tweeted Friday that he would be “CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border,” in the coming week if Mexico does not crack down on illegal border crossings.
The President is still weighing the decision, despite being warned by aides about the consequences of shutting down the border. One administration official described the effects as “catastrophic” and “a whole world of hurt.”
Meanwhile, ratification of Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement is at stake. While the President and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts have signed the deal, it has yet to be ratified by their respective legislatures.
Trump’s threat to shut down trade could make it more challenging for Mexico’s lawmakers to sign off, said Phil Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, who served as a senior economist for trade under President George W. Bush.
“If you can close down the border when you’re mad at anything, what is the value of a deal?” he said.