President Donald Trump announced Thursday that should Mexico fail to stop the influx of migrants into the country, he would impose 5 percent tariffs on Mexican products beginning from June 10.
The President pointed out that the decision was aimed at addressing the “border crisis” which has led to “hundreds of thousands of people” coming into the United States from Mexico. Trump further noted that if undocumented immigrants continue to flow into the country, America will progressively raise the tariff up to 25 percent by October 1 this year.
“On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
However, experts believe that the timing of the President’s announcement is very poor considering that the process to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) has just started. It also puts at risk American exporters since Mexico is the U.S.’ third-largest goods trading partner. Last year alone, the United States exported $265 billion of goods to Mexico.
The Trump administration quickly dismissed such concerns, saying that the move would not affect the ratification of the trilateral deal. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that the tariffs were “part of an immigration problem,” rather than of a trade issue.
Yet, Mulvaney’s comments did little to alleviate worries about the uncertain future if the USMCA. Juan Carlos Hartasanchez, senior director at the advisory firm Albright Stonebridge Group, voiced concerns that the latest threat would present a significant hurdle on the path to ratification.
“Many congressmen and senators in Mexico are going to be asking themselves whether or not they’re in a position to ratify an agreement when they have a gun pointed to their heads. So it just becomes a very complicated situation,” he stressed.
ABC News writes that Mexico’s president responded to the tariff threat Thursday, accusing the United States of turning from a country welcoming to migrants into a “ghetto” treating all those seeking freedom harshly. “The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol,” he said.
But trade negotiator Jesus Seade said Thursday that given Trump’s prolific Twitter use and frequent empty threats, the tariffs will almost certainly not go into effect.
“It is no secret to anyone that Trump is very active in his use of Twitter and he launches many tweets that are later changed,” Seade noted.