Washington: President Donald Trump announced late on Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country ‘has agreed to take strong measures’ to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.
But the deal the two neighbours agreed to falls short of some of the dramatic overhauls the US had pushed for. A ‘US-Mexico Joint Declaration’ released by the State Department said the US ‘will immediately expand the implementation’ of a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated.
Mexico will ‘offer jobs, healthcare and education’ to those people, the agreement stated. Mexico has also agreed, it said, to take ‘unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,’ including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala.
And Mexico is taking ‘decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organisations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,’ the State Department said.
The move puts to an end — for now — a threat that had sparked dire warnings from members of Trump’s own party, who warned the tariffs would damage the economy, drive up prices for consumers and imperil an updated North American trade pact.
Trump’s Friday night tweet marked a sharp reversal from earlier in the day, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters: “Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.’
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted, “Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided.” He called for a gathering to celebrate in Tijuana on Saturday.
The changes, in part, continue steps the Trump administration was already taking. The US announced in December that it would make some asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases were being proceeded — a begrudging agreement with Mexico that has taken months to scale and that has been plagued with glitches, including wrong court dates, travel problems and issues with lawyers reaching their clients....