Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican goods over immigration row

May 31, 2019 08:32
US President Donald Trump fist-bumps a graduating cadet at the US Air Force Academy's graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump said the United States will impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped, Reuters reports.

“The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed,” Trump said on Twitter.

In a statement issued by the White House on Thursday, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10 percent on July 1, 15 percent on Aug. 1, 20 percent on Sept. 1 and to 25 percent on Oct. 1.

“Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States,” Trump said in the statement.

“Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration took a procedural action aimed at speeding up a vote in Congress on the new North American trade deal, but the move rankled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has sought more time to review the pact.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer submitted a draft statement of administrative action to congressional leaders, which allows the White House to submit the text of the agreement to Congress after 30 days for a vote.

Republicans, who control the US Senate, have been seeking a vote on the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) before the August recess to avoid budget debates and 2020 presidential campaign activity expected to intensify in the autumn.

But legislative time is running short as Democrats, led by Pelosi, seek improvements in the trade deal’s enforcement of new labor and environmental standards. Pelosi controls the schedule for trade legislation.

The Washington Post, which first reported the action, described it as a move to challenge Pelosi. But Lighthizer’s letter to Pelosi made no mention of impatience with delays, saying it was a “procedural formality” required by the US trade negotiating law.

Lighthizer said the draft “does not in any way prejudice the content of the final implementation package”, including an implementation law and final binding text.

He added that he would continue to work with Congress to address concerns about labor and environmental enforcement and pharmaceutical pricing.

Pelosi said in a statement that submission of the draft at this time was “not a positive step”. She added that her fellow Democrats had “been on a path to yes” on USMCA, but stronger enforcement provisions were needed for the pact.

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