Trump says tariffs on Mexican imports to take effect next week, despite Mexican optimism for a deal
GOP lawmakers are warning of dire economic consequences and discussing plans to block the tariffs, but Trump said he didn’t think his fellow Republicans would ultimately decide to intervene.
“It’s more likely the tariffs go on and we’ll probably be talking during the time the tariffs are on,” the U.S. president said during a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London.
High-level delegations from both Mexico and the United States are scheduled to meet Wednesday in Washington to try to hammer out an agreement. Trump has threatened to impose the economic penalties unless Mexico significantly reduces the flow of irregular migration to the U.S. border.
Trump’s tone contrasted with that of Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, who told a news conference on Tuesday: “I think we have 80 percent in favor of a negotiation” that will yield a deal.
Mexico has launched a full-court press to try to avert the U.S. tariffs, which would start at 5 percent and rise each month to a ceiling of 25 percent unless the country blocks Central American migrants crossing its territory.
Mexico’s economy minister, agriculture minister and others are meeting with U.S. counterparts, and delegations of Mexican lawmakers and business leaders are also heading to Washington to warn against the tariffs. The penalties could severely affect Mexico, which sends 80 percent of its exports to the United States, its top trading partner.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told a news conference in Mexico that he was confident that the two sides “will reach an accord before the 10th of June.”
Trump told reporters that his top aides would meet with the Mexicans on Wednesday and “we are going to see if we can do something, but I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on.”
Mexican officials have indicated they are willing to take new steps to restrain the movement of migrants to the U.S. border, although they haven’t described them publicly.
The Trump administration has listed three actions it wants from Mexico: strengthening its southern border with Guatemala; stepping up interdiction of busloads of migrants being smuggled through its territory; and agreeing to accept asylum seekers instead of allowing them to proceed to the U.S. border.
Mexican officials have ruled out the third request.
U.S. authorities have detained more than 100,000 migrants along the Mexican border in each of the past two months. Mexico has nearly tripled monthly deportations since the start of the year but is struggling to cope with the rising flow of migrants.
Wagner reported from London
By Mary Beth Sheridan and John Wagner