Who Would Pay The Wall With Tariffs?

Lately, headlines has been dominated by issues relating to fake outrage about the Trump administration doing for 3 months to certain Muslim countries what they are doing permanently to Israelis (and non-Israelis who has visited Israel).

As the absurdity and hypocricy of this is so obvious I’m not going to elaborate on that issue. Instead I will focus on one issue were you really should be critical of Trump: trade.

One of the recurring campaign slogan from Trump was “We’re gonna build a wall, and Mexico is gonna pay for it”.

Mexico, who thinks that the wall would be a very bad thing even if they don’t pay for it, has said that there is no way they’re gonna pay for it. When asked then, how he’s gonna make Mexico pay for it, Trump and his officials have suggested a 20% tariff on imported Mexican goods.

To that some free traders have suggested that this would only hurt American consumers, not Mexican producers, and so it would be the American consumers that would pay for the wall.

Actually, they’re both partly right and both partly wrong.

When you have a tax wedge between what the seller gains and the buyer pays, it will almost always lead to a lower price for the seller and a higher price for the buyer. To what extent the seller and the buyer is hurt depends on the specific market conditions and price sensitivity.

As I haven’t done any empirical research on the subject, I can’t tell you to what extent tariffs would lower seller’s prices or raise buyer’s prices. But sound economic theory tells us it would be a combination.

Meaning that both Mexico and the United States would suffer, or in other words “pay for the wall”.

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