Date
17 June 2019
A file picture from April 5 shows supporters of Donald Trump during a rally as the US president visits the US-Mexico border in Calexico, California. Photo: Reuters
A file picture from April 5 shows supporters of Donald Trump during a rally as the US president visits the US-Mexico border in Calexico, California. Photo: Reuters

US, Mexico reach deal to avoid tariffs

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he has indefinitely suspended the threat of tariffs against Mexico after reaching “a signed agreement” on immigration, Reuters reports.

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” he said.

“Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,” the US president said.

Details of the agreement would be released shortly by the US State Department, Trump said.

US border officers apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest monthly level since 2006. Trump, who has railed against what he described as an “invasion,” had threatened to impose levies rising to 25 percent unless Mexico addressed the problem.

Mexico made concessions during the talks, offering to send 6,000 troops to its southern border with Guatemala, but has said it wants to see a long-term solution that would involve economic development aid.

Mexico had prepared a list of possible retaliatory tariffs targeting products from agricultural and industrial states regarded as Trump’s electoral base.

Imposing tariffs on Mexico would have left the US fighting trade wars with two of its three largest trading partners and would further unnerve financial markets already on edge about a global economic slowdown, Reuters noted.

Under the deal reached on Friday, Mexico agreed to use a large part of its newly formed National Guard to hold back immigrants crossing from Guatemala, and to take in possibly tens of thousands of people seeking asylum in the United States while their cases are adjudicated.

Led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, negotiators in Washington resisted Trump’s core demand that Mexico be declared a safe third country, a classification that would oblige Central Americans crossing through Mexico to seek safe haven there, not the United States.

But the two sides agree more action could be taken if within 90 days the measures do not have the desired result of drastically bringing down the numbers of undocumented migrants reaching the US border from levels that are at a more-than-decade high. 

Former World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy called Trump’s approach to coercing its neighbor and ally “hostage-taking,” reflecting widely held concerns in Mexico that the US president will come back with more threats to extract greater concessions.

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RC

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