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Business groups are considering legal action against the White House over Mexico tariffs

Key Points
  • U.S. business groups are considering suing the White House over President Donald Trump's new tariffs on Mexico.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mulling its legal options in response to the president's plan for duties, the group said Friday.
  • The White House plans to put 5% tariffs on Mexican imports starting June 10.
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Sources: Trade groups considering lawsuit against Trump White House over tariffs

U.S. business groups are considering suing the White House over the Trump administration's new tariffs on Mexican imports.

The powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mulling its legal options in response to the duties, the group's senior vice president of international affairs, John Murphy, told reporters Friday. Murphy said the group has no choice but to look into every option to push back against the tariff policy.

Business groups more broadly are discussing the possibility of suing the White House, a source told CNBC. A decision on how to proceed is expected by Monday.

While top business organizations have repeatedly slammed tariffs Trump levied on trading partners such as Mexico, Canada and China, a lawsuit would mark a major escalation in their opposition to White House trade policy.

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A White House spokesman said in a statement that Trump is "taking action within his authority to protect our national security."

"Industry should be in communication with their counterparts in Mexico to encourage the Mexican government to work with the administration and stave off the dangerous crisis at our southern border as quickly as possible," the spokesman added.

On Thursday night, the president announced the U.S. would put 5% tariffs on goods from Mexico starting June 10. The Trump administration says it hopes the duties will force America's southern neighbor to curb illegal immigration — though Trump cited manufacturing jobs and trade deficits as motivation for the tariffs in Friday tweets. The White House said the duties would gradually rise to 25% by October 2019.

The surprise announcement Thursday sent U.S. stock markets tumbling Friday. Major U.S. indexes were down 1% in midday trading.

The tariff plan also raised fears about whether the U.S., Mexico and Canada can ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Trump sees the replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement as a top political and economic priority ahead of his 2020 reelection bid.

The duties could damage key U.S. industries such as auto manufacturing, and crucial 2020 electoral states such as Arizona, Michigan and Texas could feel particularly sharp pain from the tariffs.

The Chamber of Commerce's Murphy said the tariffs are a new obstacle for ratification of the USMCA.

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