The issue of tariff threats and immigration ultimatums has become one where U.S. and Mexican officials are telling very different, conflicting stories.
On Friday, June 7, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. and Mexico had “reached a signed agreement” on immigration that would prevent implementation of his earlier-threatened tariffs. Mexican officials dispute this, however.
On Monday, June 10, Mexico’s Senate of the Republic issued a statement (translated via Google Translate) stating that “there is no formal knowledge of any additional agreement as informed by the president of the United States.” The statement further noted that the Mexican Senate did “not have any document that has been signed by the two presidents.”
In various remarks to the press over last week, Trump reiterated that the supposed agreement with Mexico made June 7 came as a result of his tariff threats.
“Without the tariffs, we would have had nothing,” he said in remarks to the press on June 11.
Those tariffs, announced by tweet a week before on May 30, would have put a 5 percent across-the-board tariff on all goods coming out of Mexico into the U.S. They would have additionally increased in increments of 5 percent each month that Mexico did not “substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” though no definition of those terms were given.
In the past, Mexico has struck back against U.S. tariffs with retaliatory tariffs targeting U.S. agricultural products. This has had a big impact on U.S. pork, as Mexico is the top importer of U.S. pork. Reduced pork exports can often mean more pork on the domestic market, which can compete with beef for consumer dollars.
U.S. and Mexican officials negotiated on Thursday and Friday, June 6 and 7, over the issue. The State Department issued a statement said to be a joint declaration with Mexico on June 7, stating that, “Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.”
In an early morning tweet Monday, June 10, Trump said the signed agreement will be “revealed in the not too distant future” and will need to be signed by Mexico’s legislature. He added that, “if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!”
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, directly contradicted the president’s claim the same day at a news conference in Mexico City. Regarding the tariff threat, Ebrard wrote in a June 10 report to the Mexican Senate that he and Marta Bárcena, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., had previously come to the conclusion that a tariff fight with the U.S. would be devastating.
He said such a thing “could take up to two years, with a huge negative impact on the Mexican economy” (translated via Google Translate). Ebrard quantified that harm during the news conference as the loss of about 900,000 jobs from Mexico.
In addition to the war of statements between U.S. and Mexican officials, the New York Times broke the story on June 8, just that the major parts of the immigration agreement—including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard—had been reached months before the tariff threat occurred. The article cited “officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations” as sources of this information.
Trump blasted the report on Twitter as “a hit job” and repeatedly called it false in comments to the press last week. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ editor