Trade deals tied to food prices

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Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump talked about the need to renegotiate or abolish many trade deals with foreign governments. Three experts tell Consumers Digest that President Trump’s proposals might lead to higher prices for certain imported foods.

Americans import many foods, such as bananas, coffee and avocados, that could be affected directly by tariffs and import taxes, those experts say.

James Butkiewicz, who is a professor of economics at University of Delaware, says prices of imported foods will rise if the United States renegotiates or eliminates existing trade deals.

The problem concerns foods that require warm weather to grow but might not be available domestically at all times, says Giacomo Santangelo, who is a lecturer at Fordham University. Unusually cold weather can cause a shortage of foods that are grown in the United States, which means that retailers would have to turn to a nondomestic supply to get those foods.

Countries that supply those foods might be inclined to impose higher tariffs as a response to unfavorable trade deals, Santangelo says.

“Any sort of tariff or tax is going to have to be passed along to consumers,” says J. Craig Shearman, who is a spokesperson for industry trade group National Retail Federation.