Trump tariffs create rare disagreement between Sonora and Arizona governors

Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich is parting ways with her Arizona counterpart over the tariffs on imports from Mexico that President Trump is threatening to impose next week.

In a Twitter post, the Sonora governor made it clear she is on the side of her president, Andres Lopez Obrador, who said in his own public posting to Trump that “you can’t solve social problems with taxes or coercive measures.”

Pavlovich said she fears the economic damage that would result from the tariffs.

“There are a lot of national interests, investment, employment that are in play, the interests of both countries,” Pavlovich wrote.

“Mexico is the principal business partner of the United States,” she continued, as if addressing U.S. officials. “You know this very well.”

Ducey, for his part, is siding with President Trump, saying earlier this week that he values “public safety” over commerce.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Republican governor provided no direct response to Pavlovich’s Twitter post.

Instead, his press aide Patrick Ptak said Ducey “values Arizona’s trade relationship with Mexico and the partnership he’s forged with Gov. Pavlovich.”

Ptak also said Ducey will continue to prioritize trade to bring opportunity to Arizonans “while protecting public safety as we always have.”

Pavlovich, meanwhile, said there is a clear responsibility of elected officials on both sides of the border to pursue “dialog and the agreement that benefit our citizens.”

This is more than an academic issue for Pavlovich.

In an interview in 2016 with Capitol Media Services, a year after she took office, she said she is trying to build a “mega-region” with Arizona designed to attract companies interested in doing business on both sides of the border.

Pavlovich said that means more trade, more tourism and more emphasis on convincing businesses that the border is not a barrier but instead simply separates two halves of a whole.

Later in 2016, Pavlovich came to Phoenix to help Ducey announce that Lucid Motors intends to build an electric car manufacturing plant in Casa Grande.

In speeches that day, the two governors stressed that this would be a cross-border operation, with many of the parts and supplies made in Sonora and shipped to the United States.

A Trump tariff would raise costs and threaten the viability of such a plan.

A Lucid spokeswoman said late Wednesday her company has no comment at this time about the tariffs and how they might affect the planned operations.

At issue is Trump’s threat to impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports beginning Monday unless that country takes certain actions — he did not specify what — to stem the flow of refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who are fleeing their home countries and traveling through Mexico to show up at the U.S. border to seek asylum.

Trump has vowed to ratchet up those tariffs to as much as 25% by October if his administration is not satisfied with Mexican response.

Until now, Ducey has tried to separate domestic policy as espoused by Trump from his relationship with Pavlovich.

Last year Ducey signed a pact that will enable New Mexico to move its excess natural gas through Arizona to Sonora for eventual sale to Asia. That came amid escalating rhetoric from the Trump administration decrying what the president said have been unfair trade deals with Mexico.

Ducey said at the time to ignore all that: “I think there’s a difference between rhetoric and actions.”

Now, in backing Trump, Ducey finds himself increasingly isolated from other border governors, including on this side of the line.

Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, warned that the proposed tariffs have the “potential to be economically catastrophic” for her state. Grisham, a Democrat, said even a 5 percent tariff could threaten tens of thousands of jobs.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas also has lined up against the president.

“I’ve previously stated my opposition to tariffs due to the harm it would inflict on the Texas economy,” Abbott said last week. “I remain opposed today.”

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