By Caribbean News Now contributor
LONDON, England – Resisting escalating criticism from within his party, US President Donald Trump declared Tuesday he would likely proceed with new tariffs on imports from Mexico to compel it to clamp down on increasing numbers of migrants entering the United States.
Referring to the immense number of mostly Central American immigrants crossing the US southern border with Mexico, the embattled US president informed a news conference in London that he anticipated imposing five percent tariffs on Mexican imports from Monday.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and other officials, in a final effort to obtain a resolution, have arranged to partake in negotiations at the White House Wednesday afternoon, hosted by US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump will be in Europe to honour the anniversary of D-Day.
If the tariffs proceed, the US will be in consequential friction with two of its three top trading allies. US trade relations with China has deteriorated in the past several weeks as Beijing and Washington have slammed further tariffs on each other’s imports.
The US president has forewarned increasing the tariffs on Mexico to as high as 25 percent later this year if the Mexican government doesn’t become more active in stopping migrants from crossing into the US.
Trump has urged Republicans in Congress not to hinder his efforts. “I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish,” he said.
However, Republican senators signalled that the White House might not have their support, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declaring there was “not much support” with other Republicans for the tariffs. The warning has startled global markets and put the ratification of a three-way trade pact between the two countries and Canada that took over a year to arrange in uncertainty.
The US Chamber of Commerce and Industry groups have also criticised the proposed tariffs on concerns about increased costs for US consumers and businesses.
Mexico exports a wide array of products to the US varying from vehicles, auto parts and TVs to popular kinds of beer. Toyota Motor Corporation said Tuesday, tariffs on Mexican imports could cost the automaker’s significant suppliers as much as $1 billion.
Mexican leaders are anticipated to show the Trump administration Wednesday that they are implementing measures to reduce the northward stream of migrants, but the US president said the discussions might not solve the problem.
“We’re going to see if we can do something, but I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on,” Trump said during a state visit to Britain, calling immigrants accessing the US illegally as an “invasion.”
However, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president was optimistic when speaking at a news conference, saying that a resolution on tariffs and migration could be achieved.
Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary, speaking at an event in Miami, said of negotiations with Mexican representatives: “Hopefully, we can work out a sensible solution to the border crisis and minimize the economic fallout.”
Tackling illegal immigration was one of Trump’s central campaign promises in the last US presidential election and it appears as if it will be an important concern again as he pursues re-election next year.
“Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country,” Trump said Tuesday, also calling on the US Congress to pass immigration laws to address the situation and blaming Democrats for stalling any such effort.