Potential tariffs cause concern for local businesses

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- The White House's recent threats to place tariffs on goods from Mexico in response to issues at the border are still causing a stir, even though the two countries reached a tentative deal. If they were to go through - the impact could be great.

"A tariff in simplest terms, the way I understand it, is like a tax. It's a tax that is imposed on a product as it comes into the country," said Saul Robles, Manager of Fiesta Tequila Restaurant.

As the Trump administration threatens tariffs on Mexican imports, businesses here in the Stateline worry about what that would mean for them.

"If the tariffs get as high as they say they might, everybody, every store is going to have to raise their prices on any product they get outside," said Tom Lewis, Liquor Department Manager at Valli Produce.

Businesses often try to absorb the costs incurred from increased taxes. But, sometimes, raising their prices is unavoidable.

"We have to pay our employees, we have to pay our lights, and we have to pay our bills. If we can't meet those by the prices that are currently out there, we're forced to raise our prices," said Lewis.

While the range of products potentially affected is broad, some of your pantry staples could be hardest hit.

"Produce, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, the avocado and some of these other ethnic products that are generally not grown in the U.S. and they have to be imported from Mexico," said Robles.

With businesses assessing the impact, the buzz behind the potential move eases concerns.

"As the topic becomes more mainstream, people talk about it more, so, in a way, it softens the blow because you don't surprise customers," said Robles.

President Trump now turns his attention to China, where he says he will impose another $300 billion in tariffs on Chinese exports if President Xi Jinping does not agree to meet with him at the G20 Summit.