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Mexico: Trump’s tariffs could worsen Central American immigration problem

Mexico: Trump's tariffs could worsen Central American immigration problem



Marcelo Ebrard

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebard on Monday highlighted the actions Mexico is taking to deal with the stream of migrants crossing into his country from Guatemala. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

President Donald Trump’s plan to slap tariffs on Mexican goods will hurt both countries and weaken Mexico’s ability to help stop the flow of Central American immigrants seeking entry into the United States, top Mexican officials said Monday.

“Slapping tariffs, along with a decision to cancel aid programs to the northern Central American countries, could have a counterproductive effect and would not reduce migrations flows,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters during an early morning press conference at the Mexican Embassy.

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Trump plans to impose a 5 percent duty on all Mexican goods beginning next week. He also said he would gradually ratchet the duty up to 25 percent by Oct. 1 unless Mexico does more to stop the flow of Central American immigrants reaching the southern U.S. border.

Ebard highlighted the actions Mexico is already taking to deal with the stream of migrants crossing into his country from Guatemala.

He also argued for a cooperative solution with the United States and other international partners to address the root causes of migration out of Central America, referring to high rates of gang violence and a lack of jobs in the region.

Mexico is “willing to continue to working with the U.S. to address issues of common concern”, Ebrard said, speaking through a translator. “We believe our countries can reach a deal on how to face a matter on which our approaches are different.”

But Ebrard said Mexico would not agree to any U.S. demands that damages the country’s “dignity.”

Mexican officials rushed to Washington on Friday and over the weekend after Trump announced his plan to impose duties on Mexican goods.

Meetings with U.S. officials are expected to continue over the next several days, leading to a summit at the White House on Wednesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mexico’s Agriculture Secretary Víctor Manuel Villalobos told reporters he would be meeting this morning with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

A 5 percent tariff on Mexico’s agricultural exports to the United States would harm such trade by $1.4 billion each year, Villalobos said. The hurt would be even higher if the U.S. duties are increased, he added.



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