US to ramp up tariffs on Mexico over immigration

Global Business

U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico if it doesn’t curb illegal migration has stunned many in Washington and around the world.

The move announced on Twitter would impose a 5 percent duty on all goods beginning June 10 and would rise by 5 percent a month unless the U.S. sees a drop in migrant flows across the southern border.

A negotiating team from Mexico was set to begin discussions in Washington Friday. CGTN’s Nathan King reports there’s a lot at stake for companies and communities on both sides of the border.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he likes tariffs. He’s called himself Tariff Man and tariff man is striking once again, via social media site Twitter. 

The Trump administration has already labeled the situation at the southern border a national emergency and is using national emergency laws to threaten the tariffs. White House Press Secretary Sara Sanders said they had “no choice.”   

“We’ve been giving them advance warning for months. We’ve asked them repeatedly and told them they have to do more. Let’s not forget that the average individual that crosses over the southern border of Mexico it takes 21 days before they reach the United States border. That gives them three weeks in which to break up particularly these large groups.”

Critics will argue this is a crisis of the White House’s own making. Tougher immigration policies have led to more detentions of families and children, even deaths, but migrant flows from violence in Central America are up.

The Trump administration has set no specific targets for Mexico to meet, but say the border, especially with Guatemala, must be strengthened. A crackdown on human smugglers must happen and more asylum cases handled in Mexico. U.S. Homeland Security officials say success will be measured by a decrease in illegal migration from Mexico. But threatening tariffs is a big risk. Due to the trade war with China, Mexico is currently the US’s biggest trading partner – and for 2018 was number two.

Complaints from the big US carmakers to pork producers were swift and adamant, the tariffs will hurt U.S. companies and consumers and Mexico won’t pay the tariffs – U.S. importers will.  The tariff threat could also upend the newly agreed US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement. All three nations had just started to pass the deal through their legislative bodies and steel and aluminum tariffs were lifted against Mexico just two weeks ago.