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Trump tariffs on hold after Mexico deal

Published:Sunday | June 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM
United States President Donald Trump.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard gets ready to talk to reporters as he leaves the Department of State in Washington, on Friday June 7, 2019. President Donald Trump says he has suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country "has agreed to take strong measures" to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States. (AP Photo/Luis Alonso Lugo)
Migrants walk past a large U.S. flag blanketing a portion of the border in protest to demand respect for migrants, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday, June 7, 2019. President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country "has agreed to take strong measures" to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States. (AP Photo/Christian Torres)


President Donald Trump has put on hold his plan to begin imposing tariffs on Mexico on Monday, saying the United States ally will take “strong measures” to reduce the flow of Central American migrants into their northern neighbour.

But the deal he announced Friday night, after returning from a trip to Europe, falls short of some of the dramatic overhauls pushed for by his administration.

A joint declaration released by the State Department said the US “will immediately expand” a programme that returns asylum-seekers, while their claims are under review, to Mexico after they have crossed the US-Mexico border. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, according to the agreement.

Mexico has agreed, it said, to “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration”, including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala.

Trump put the number of troops at 6,000, and said in a tweet Saturday, “Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!”


Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Twitter, “Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided.” He called for a gathering Saturday to celebrate in Tijuana.

Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s “threats and temper tantrums are no way to negotiate foreign policy”, especially with “our close friend”.

The State Department said Mexico is taking “decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organisations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks”.

The agreement removes, for now, the threat of trade penalties that had elicited dire warnings from members of Trump’s own party about the potential economic damage, higher consumer prices and an imperiled update to a North American trade deal.

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said he thought the deal struck “a fair balance” because the US “had more drastic proposals and measures at the start”.

But Leticia Calderón Cheluis, a migration expert at the Mora Institute in Mexico City, said the agreement is essentially a series of compromises solely by Mexico, which she said committed to “a double clamp at both borders”.

Trump used social media to say he was “pleased to inform you” about the deal with Mexico and said the threatened tariffs “are hereby indefinitely suspended”. He cited Mexico’s commitment to “strong measures” intended “to greatly reduce, or eliminate” illegal immigration from Mexico.

It was a sharp reversal, given that earlier Friday, his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had told reporters: “Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.”