Mexican President to visit US border

Daniel Fowler
June 7, 2019

Mexican and US officials are set to resume talks in Washington on Thursday aimed at heading off punitive tariffs on Mexican goods after President Donald Trump said more needed to be done to curb migration at the southern USA border.

Trump last month announced a 5% tariff on all imports from Mexico unless the country takes "decisive measures" - as judged by his administration - to stem migrants entering the U.S. He said the tariffs would begin June 10 and scale up incrementally until they reach 25% on October 1.

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said earlier he remained optimistic about the ongoing talks with the United States on trade tariffs related to the migration crisis on the US-Mexican border.

The threatened tariffs carry enormous economic implications for both countries, and politically they underscore a major ideological split between Trump and his party.

The United States may delay imposing new tariffs on Mexican products. Last month, US authorities made more than 144,000 arrests along the southern border, the highest level in 13 years.

Most are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries wracked by gangs, violence and poverty.

Staff-level meetings are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Thursday with Mexican officials at the White House, a White House official said. The tariff is set to go into effect Monday.

A White House trade adviser and a leading Republican senator say a United States plan to impose tariffs on Mexican goods might not come into effect.

Meanwhile Carla Provost, the head of the US Border Patrol, downplayed the issue of asylum, saying migrants simply understand that, due to US laws, if they arrive with children, they will likely be released into the United States.

It was unclear whether the hardening of Mexico's response would appease Trump, who is struggling to make good on his key 2016 presidential campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border as part of a hard-line immigration stance.

Trump is traveling in Europe this week.

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The immigration issue came into sharper focus on Wednesday with news that USA border officers said they apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest monthly total in more than a decade and reaching what officials said were "crisis" levels.

"The president's proposed tariffs would hurt American workers, businesses, and consumers". Ted Cruz of Texas characterized the mood.

With efforts to get Mexico and then the U.S. Congress to fund the barrier having failed, Trump threatened to shut down the border completely, before backing off and turning to punitive tariffs. But if the tariffs are implemented, the peso could weaken an additional 5.2% to 20.6 per dollar next week, according to the average projections of 12 analysts surveyed by Reuters. Mexico is pushing for more time to negotiate over concerns the two sides won't be able to reach agreement on the steps Mexico would have to take to avert the tariffs, one person said.

Ebrard clarified that there were still differences between the two sides in "what the U.S. government is looking for are measures that have a short-term effect".

That trade deal largely preserves the tariff-free trading relations between the United States and its southern neighbor established in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump routinely disparages as "one of the worst trade deals ever made".

US Vice-President led talks with Mexican delegation.

The Washington Post reported that Mexico has promised to deploy 6,000 of its national guard troops to lock down the Guatemala border region.

The back-and-forth could also imperil the NAFTA revamp, which Trump pressured Mexico and Canada to agree to past year. Mexico is the second largest source of US imports after China.

Late Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "Progress is being made, but not almost enough!"

"Mexico must do more to end the tide of illegal immigration", Pence said Thursday during a stop in Pennsylvania. "It's a very simple thing".

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