Trump: US tariffs on Mexican goods 'likely'

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador indicates he will keep negotiating even if punitive tariffs go into effect

    Trump called on the US Congress to pass immigration laws to address the situation and blamed Democrats for stalling any such effort [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters].
    Trump called on the US Congress to pass immigration laws to address the situation and blamed Democrats for stalling any such effort [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters].

    United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would probably order new tariffs on all Mexican goods imported to the US next week despite a diplomatic push to avoid them.

    Last week, Trump threatened to slap five-percent tariffs on all Mexican goods starting June 10th - and to increase the rate in the coming months to 25 percent - unless Mexico does more to stem the flow of undocumented migrants trying to reach the US via Mexico.

    Mexico is preparing a proposal on immigration to present to US officials at a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, but Trump said the talks might not be enough.

    "We're going to see if we can do something, but I think it's more likely that the tariffs go on," Trump said at a news conference in London. "Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country."

    Trump called on the US Congress to pass immigration laws to address the situation and blamed Democrats for stalling any such effort.

    Asked to comment on Trump's remarks, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told his regular morning news conference that he was optimistic a deal could be reached.

    "The most important thing now is to reach an agreement," Lopez Obrador said, indicating that he would continue to negotiate even if Trump did go ahead with the tariffs.

    Before Trump spoke, Lopez Obrador told the two-hour news conference he expected Mexico to reach a deal with the US over immigration ahead of the June 10 deadline.

    "There are signs that it matters to the US officials that there's a deal," he said.

    Inflowing waves of migrants - many of them asylum seekers escaping criminal violence in Central America - have long sparked Trump's ire and helped fuel his successful bid for the White House amid a campaign promise that he would make Mexico pay for a wall along the southern US border.

    Trumps' efforts to get Mexico or US lawmakers to fund the barrier have failed.

    Tariff threat fallout

    Trump's tariff threat against Mexico spread gloom to global markets last week and put a joint trade pact between the two countries and Canada further in doubt.

    Despite Trump's rhetoric, Mexico is now detaining double the number of migrants per day than a year ago, and three times as many as in January, when Lopez Obrador's new government opted instead to give visas to Central Americans, hoping they would stay in Mexico.

    Instead, most of them made their way to the US border, contributing to the recent upswing.

    Under pressure from the US, the Mexican government changed its strategy, and in May detentions surged past 20,000.

    Lawmakers from Trump's Republican Party have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block the tariffs, according to a report by The Washington Post that cited people familiar with talks in Congress.

    Trump said that sort of congressional action was unlikely, noting "I think if they do, it's foolish."

    Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, in Washington for the talks with US officials, said he hoped Wednesday's meeting could be a starting point for negotiations. Mexican lawmakers and private sector officials will also be visiting Washington this week to press Mexico's case, he added.

    Mexican officials on Monday vowed to reject a US idea to take in all Central American asylum seekers if it was raised at talks with the Trump administration this week.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency