U.S., Mexico Reach Deal to Avoid Tariffs | 90-days to Finalize Agreement

Posted on 06/08/2019 9:04 AM

Mexico to take ‘strong measures’ to slow migration over border | U.S. to accelerate investments

The U.S. and Mexico reached a deal to curb migration, defusing President Donald Trump’s threat to impose sweeping tariffs on Mexican imports after several days of negotiating sessions in Washington. Both countries agreed to finalize the terms of additional provisions within 90 days. If the measures adopted did not deliver the desired results, the two sides would have to announce within three months what they planned to do. Link to State Department statement.

No new U.S. tariffs on Mexico will be implemented as President Trump on Friday night dropped his threat of tariffs after negotiators reached a deal on measures to stem the flow of migrants pouring into the U.S. from Mexico. Trump said the tariffs, which had been set to go into effect Monday, were “indefinitely suspended,” while Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that, thanks to the support of all Mexicans, “the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the U.S. have been avoided.”

Both countries agreed to finalize the terms of additional provisions within 90 days. Ebrard said that under the agreement, if the measures adopted did not deliver the desired results, the two sides would have to announce within three months what they planned to do.

Trump and Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard spoke by telephone Friday evening, shortly before Trump announced the deal.

A joint statement released by both countries late Friday said that Mexico agreed to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, including deployment of its newly created National Guard throughout the country, with a focus on its southern border with Guatemala. On Thursday night, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said it would deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops.

The U.S., meanwhile, said it would immediately expand the implementation of the existing “Migrant Protection Protocols” across its entire southern border, returning asylum seekers to Mexico. “Those crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims,” the statement said, adding that Mexico will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals for humanitarian reasons.

Ebrard said his country would take action to dismantle human-smuggling networks and work more closely with the U.S. to share information about migrants. Mexico will accept the return of more migrants to await the resolution of their U.S. asylum cases, and offer them work permits, education and health services during their time in the country, Ebrard said.

In return, Ebrard revealed, the U.S. would accelerate several investment and development programs in Central America and Southern Mexico that were agreed to under a $5.8 billion aid package announced late last year.

The deal contained no reference to any kind of third safe country agreement, which the U.S. had been pushing for, under which migrants would have to seek refuge in Mexico rather than the U.S. The issue has long been a red line for the government.

Reaction to the development was quick and partisan. Trump’s decision not to go ahead with tariffs was applauded by Republican lawmakers, who warned the tariffs could stymie economic growth and derails efforts to ratify a revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Mexico recently became the U.S.' largest trading partner, and the U.S. imported just under $350 billion in goods from the country last year. “No tariffs on Mexico. Mexico came through,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted Friday after Trump’s announcement. Grassley was one of several GOP senators who vocally protested Trump’s tariff plan. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said, “Iowans are breathing a sigh of relief: Mexico has stepped up to help us address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, and we won’t feel the pinch from new tariffs with one of our biggest trading partners. We’ve got to curb the flow of illegal migrants coming across our border, and Mexico knows they need to be part of that. I’m encouraged by these negotiations and the end result. This truly is good news not only for Iowa, but for our entire country.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cheered the agreement. “By exerting maximum pressure and demanding decisive action from the López Obrador administration [in Mexico], President Trump has secured an important victory on behalf of the American people,” he said.

But Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader from New York, mocked the agreement. “Now that that [immigration] problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future,” he wrote on Twitter.

Perspective: Trump's now familiar trade policy steps again unfolded as he first threatened tariffs, then talks were held, then officials signaled a possible suspension of tariffs and then an agreement was reached. Some analysts warned that some lasting damage had been done to the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico during the stand-off, and Trump’s threat risked resurfacing at any time. The tentative agreement is particularly important for the U.S. automotive and agriculture industries, which have established supply and demand chains. Meanwhile, Trump administration officials will hope that the end of the latest skirmish will put Congress back on the path towards ratification of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


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