Published:  12:15 AM, 09 June 2019

US reaches deal to avoid Mexico tariffs: Trump

US reaches deal to avoid Mexico tariffs: Trump US President Donald Trump

Mexico has agreed to take "unprecedented steps" to help stem the flow of migrants to the US in order to avoid trade tariffs threatened by US President Donald Trump.

Trump revealed that a deal had been reached to suspend the tariffs "indefinitely" in a series of tweets. He had threatened to implement import duties of 5%, rising every month, unless Mexico acted to curb migration. The tariffs were due to come into effect on Monday.

The deal, also confirmed in a tweet by Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, comes at the end of three days of negotiations, which saw Washington demand a crackdown on Central American migrants. 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....

Trump caught members of his own party unaware when he announced the proposed tariffs last week. He had declared an emergency on the US-Mexico border in February, saying it was necessary in order to tackle what he claimed was a crisis with thousands of undocumented migrants crossing the frontier. In a joint declaration released by the US state department, the two countries said Mexico would take "unprecedented" steps to curb irregular migration and human trafficking.

But it seems the US did not get one of its reported key demands that would have required Mexico to take in asylum seekers heading for the US and process their claims on its own soil. Under the deal, Mexico agreed to:nDeploy its National Guard throughout the country from Monday, pledging up to 6,000 additional troops along Mexico's southern border with Guatemala

The US also agreed to: Expand its program of sending asylum seekers back to Mexico while they awaited reviews of their claims. In return, the US would "work to accelerate" the adjudication process Both countries pledged to "strengthen bilateral co-operation" over border security, including "co-ordinate actions" and information sharing.

The declaration added that discussions would continue, and final terms be accepted and announced within 90 days. Should Mexico's actions "not have the expected results", the agreement warned that additional measures could be taken, but did not specify what these would be.

Ebrard told journalists: "I think it was a fair balance, because they have more drastic measures and proposals at the start, and we have reached some middle point." "We couldn't be more pleased with the agreement," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at a separate news conference.

It's still unclear whether it was internal pressure within his party or the measures being offered by Mexico that dissuaded Trump from implementing the plan. Or perhaps simply an appreciation of its potential consequences. It became apparent during the talks just how intertwined the two neighboring economies are, and many argued that a 5% tax on all Mexican goods would hurt US suppliers and customers too.

Furthermore, damaging the already fragile Mexican economy could have pushed it into a full recession and created more migrants heading north in search of work. Still, some considered the bilateral meetings were useful, in part to recognize that both nations are facing a steep rise in undocumented immigration.

The plan to deploy military personnel to Mexico's southern border may well have helped bring this dispute to an end. However, President Trump has now tied immigration to bilateral trade and could easily do so again in the future should the situation fail to improve.

President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador ran for office vowing to stand up to the US and once said he would not allow Mexico to be Trump's "whipping boy". But some politicians felt he had given too much, too quickly, and they demanded to see details of the deal.

Angel Avila Romero, a senior member of the left-wing PRD party, said the agreement was "not a negotiation, it was a surrender". "Mexico should not militarize its southern border. We are not the backyard of Donald Trump," he tweeted. Marko Cortés, leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), said the sovereignty and dignity of Mexico had been damaged, newspaper El Universal reported.

Lopez Obrador said on Twitter that a rally in the border city of Tijuana on Saturday to celebrate Mexican sovereignty would go ahead. Under his proposal, duties would have risen by 5% every month on goods including cars, beer, tequila, fruit and vegetables until they hit 25% in October.

Mexico is currently one of the largest trading partners of the US, just behind China and Canada - two countries also locked in trade disputes with the US.

---BBC

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