Top government officials from Mexico and the United States (U.S.) met in Washington on Wednesday for bilateral talks regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican goods. However, no deal was reached.
The US president, who is in Europe for World War Two commemorations, warned on Twitter that the tariffs would go ahead next Monday if there is no breakthrough.
“I think a lot of progress was made yesterday,” Trump said in Ireland before departing for Normandy.
Wednesday’s negotiations – led by Vice President Mike Pence and Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard – lasted about 90 minutes and ended with both sides promising to keep working toward a deal.
Ebrard told a news conference that immigration, not tariffs was the main focus at the White House meeting. He acknowledged that the number of migrants has gone up, and said it will be a subject discussed in the continued talks Thursday. He expressed optimism in comments at the Mexican Embassy in Washington after the talks.
The US officials said the Mexicans appeared sincere, but Mr. Pence concluded that the efforts were insufficient because they would most likely reduce migration only at the margins, instead of the wholesale changes that Mr. Trump was looking for. Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo countered by urging the Mexicans to enter into a “third safe country” treaty in which Mexico would assume responsibility for granting asylum to the migrants, something the Mexicans have steadfastly opposed.
Mexico, on their part, appears desperate about defusing a potential trade war with the U.S. With its sluggish economy and central bank lowering 2019 growth expectations to a range of 0.8% to 1.8%, its important for Mexico to strike a deal to avoid tariff.
With the clock ticking toward U.S. elections in 2020, Trump is facing resistance within his own Republican Party to strike a deal and avoid the tariffs. Many lawmakers are concerned about the potential impact on cross-border trade and increased costs for U.S. businessess and consumers on imported Mexican goods from cars and auto parts to beer and fruit.