President Trump Backs Down From Tariff Threat After US and Mexico Reach Agreement

The United States and Mexico appear to have reached an agreement on the current immigration crisis which will avert the harsh and draconian tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to levy on all Mexican imports.

President Trump announced the agreement in two tweets:

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to … stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”

In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. “The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure,” said Secretary Pompeo.

Minister Ebrard appeared to be pleased with the agreement. In a tweet, he thanked Secretary Pompeo “for his valuable participation in achieving today’s agreement with the US.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also voiced his support for the arrangement in a tweet.

In a media note from the Department of State, the US and Mexican governments agreed to “work together to immediately implement a durable solution” and to crack down on “irregular migration” in their countries.

Mexico agreed to beef up immigration enforcement. Under the agreement, the National Guard will be deployed Mexico’s southern border and throughout the country. Mexico also agreed to allow the US to send immigrants claiming asylum back to Mexico while their asylum case is being adjudicated in the US and to provide migrants with jobs, healthcare, and education. For its part, the United States agreed to speed up the adjudication process for asylum claims.

United States committed to expand the practice of returning migrants seeking asylum at the southern border to Mexico while their asylum case works its way through the courts.

Both countries also agreed to continue to cooperate on security concerns along their shared border and to address the underlying issues driving migrants to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

While the tariff threat appears to be lifted for now, the agreement leaves much to be desired. The White House has not specified if it will require additional appropriation from Congress to increase border security to implement the new agreement or if everything can be accomplished under current allocated funding.

Additionally, the process of sending migrants who crossed into the United States to claim asylum back to Mexico, known as Migrant Protection Protocols, may violate several laws. According to the Washington Post, federal judge blocked the controversial policy in April noting that it probably violated the Immigration Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Furthermore, President Trump may decide to use this tactic of essentially extorting Mexico to change its domestic policy by threatening massive and indiscriminate tariffs in the future if Mexico is unable to sufficiently stop the flow of migrants coming from Central America.

So while the immediate issue may have been resolved, the underlining problem President Trump’s willingness to break norms and use threats of a trade war continues to undermine the relationship between the Mexico and the United States.

United States to Impose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs on Mexico, Canada, and European Union

The United States will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, according to the Associated Press.

An ad valorem rate of duty of 25 percent will be levied on affected steel imports and 10 percent on affected aluminum imports.

President Donald Trump originally announced the protectionist tariffs in March, saying that the measures were necessary to protect US national security.

“This relief will help our domestic steel industry to revive idled facilities, open closed mills, preserve necessary skills by hiring new steel workers, and maintain or increase production, which will reduce our Nation’s need to rely on foreign producers for steel and ensure that domestic producers can continue to supply all the steel necessary for critical industries and national defense,” President Trump said in his proclamation announcing the steel tariffs.

The administration specifically excluded Canada and Mexico from the steel and aluminum tariffs saying that the US’s neighbors “present a special case.”

“Given our shared commitment to supporting each other in addressing national security concerns, our shared commitment to addressing global excess capacity for producing aluminum, the physical proximity of our respective industrial bases, the robust economic integration between our countries, the export of aluminum produced in the United States to Canada and Mexico, and the close relation of the economic welfare of the United States to our national security, see 19 U.S.C. 1862(d), I have determined that the necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security posed by imports of aluminum articles from Canada and Mexico is to continue ongoing discussions with these countries and to exempt aluminum articles imports from these countries from the tariff, at least at this time,” President Trump said in his proclamation announcing the aluminum tariffs.

However, it appears that the slow pace of the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations weighed on the administration’s decision.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the NAFTA talks were “taking longer than we had hoped.”

Last year, US imports affected by the tariffs from Canada totaled US$7.2 billion in aluminum and US$2.4 billion in steel, and US$0.5 billion in aluminum and US$1.5 billion in steel from Mexico.

It is unclear if the Trump administration plans to place tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from other US allies.

In a revised proclamation on March 22, President Trump excluded a number of countries from the original tariffs, including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, the EU, and South Korea.

President Trump said in the proclamation that the US “has an important security relationship” with both Argentina and Brazil, including in Latin American security concerns, reciprocal investment in industry, and “strong economic integration.”