Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

News May 31, 2019 No Comments

Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Thursday (May 30) the United States will impose a 5 per cent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on Jun 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped.

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

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In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10 per cent on Jul 1, 15 per cent on Aug 1, 20 per cent on Sep 1 and to 25 per cent 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.

Trump’s move dramatically ramps up his battle to control a tide of immigrants that has increased despite his efforts to build a border wall and halt the thousands of people crossing from Central America through Mexico to the US border.

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The president’s decision, abruptly announced in a tweet and subsequent statement, was a direct challenge to the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and appeared to take the Mexican government by surprise.

On Thursday, Mexican President Andres Lopez Obrador sent a letter to Trump saying he does not want “confrontation” and calling for dialogue with the US on migration.

“I express to you that I don’t want confrontation … I propose deepening our dialogue, to look for other alternatives to the migration problem,” Lopez Obrador wrote in the letter.

Trump’s move raised the risk of deteriorating economic relations between two neighbours heavily dependent on the cross-border flow of goods. It also opened up a new front on trade as the Trump administration struggles to conclude a trade deal with China.

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The announcement rattled investors who feared that worsening trade frictions could hurt the global economy. The Mexican peso, US stock index futures and Asian stock markets tumbled on the news, including the shares of Japanese automakers who ship cars from Mexico to the United States.

“We’re in a good moment building a good relationship (with the United States) and this comes like a cold shower,” said Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade.

US officials said 80,000 people are being held in custody with an average of 4,500 arriving daily, overwhelming the ability of border patrol officials to handle them. A senior White House official said Trump was particularly concerned that US border agents apprehended a group of 1,036 migrants as they illegally crossed the border from Mexico on Wednesday. Officials said it was the largest single group since October.

A source close to Trump said there had been an internal debate inside the White House over whether to go forward with the new policy, with immigration hawks fighting for it and others urging a more diplomatic approach. Trump sided with the hawks.

“The last thing he wants is to look weak,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s directive also spelled the potential for chaos for his efforts to get the US Congress to approve his USMCA trade deal, which he sees as a replacement to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Mexico’s Seade said it would be disastrous if Trump goes through with his threat to impose the tariffs. Calling Trump’s move “extreme”, Seade said a normal response would be for Mexico to “mirror” the US tariffs but that would lead to a trade war.

Trump said he was acting under the powers granted to him by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. He campaigned for election in 2016 on a vow to crack down on illegal immigration.

“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.

WHITE HOUSE WANTS ACTION “TONIGHT”

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, when asked in a conference call with reporters which products from Mexico could be affected by the tariffs, said: “All of them.”

“This is an urgent problem,” Mulvaney said. “We are interested in seeing the Mexican government act tonight, tomorrow.”

US officials say the immigration system is being overwhelmed by thousands of migrants, many who turn themselves into border officials to claim asylum in the United States. Border facilities are straining to handle large numbers of people and many children.

At least six migrant children have died in US custody or shortly after being released. Apprehensions of migrants on the southwest border hit another record high last month with 98,977 people arrested.

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