Trump’s tariffs on Mexico and China: 3 key differences

Over the past year, President Trump has imposed a slew of tariffs on multiple countries across the world in hopes of overhauling the global trading system.

HIs latest announcement, however -- a threat of a 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods -- has been met with fierce criticism and pushback from Capitol Hill, including Republican senators who’ve said they’re almost uniformly opposed to the plan, despite supporting previous tariffs levied against China.

But the U.S.-China trade dispute and the new Mexico tariffs are vastly different, both in scope and in the pushback from lawmakers.

Here are three key differences between the tariffs on Mexico and China.

Why are the tariffs in place?

Trump’s tariffs on Mexico are all about immigration along the Southern border. The president warned that if Mexico didn’t stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country, he’d slap tariffs on their imports in hopes of wooing businesses back to the U.S., although economists have warned it could inadvertently hurt the average American consumer.

The China tariffs, meanwhile, are about long-standing accusations of unfair trade practices; a crackdown on intellectual property theft and an attempt to end the practice of forced technology transfers. Over time, however, the trade war between the world’s two largest economies has transgressed beyond the normal disputes after the Trump administration moved to blacklist the Chinese tech firm Huawei in May.

How much are the tariffs worth?

The White House is weighing a 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports that could start as soon as Monday, but Trump warned they could go as high as 25 percent by October if the government does not try to reduce immigration.

The China tariffs, however, are much bigger, as negotiations have dragged on with no deal in sight. Trump threatened Beijing with tariffs on another $300 billion worth of goods on Thursday. Currently, however, the U.S. has imposed a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.


Who supports the tariffs?

Perhaps most significantly, Trump’s tariffs on Mexico drew almost an immediate rebuke from Republicans. Trump’s threat was also met with resistance by multiple U.S. business groups, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, which threatened legal action to prevent the White House from imposing the import tax.

Conversely, most Republicans were relatively supportive when Trump hit China with tariffs last year, although he still received some pushback. Most continued to support the president, even when he raised the tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent last month.