President Donald Trump has suspended planned tariffs against Mexico, saying that an agreement has been reached on border enforcement to stem the tide of illegal migration into the U.S. from Central America.
‘I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,’ Trump wrote in a tweet on Friday, three days before the first tariffs were set to take effect.
‘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 stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border,’ he continued, shortly after arriving back at the White House from a trip to the UK and Ireland.
‘This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly be the State Department. Thank you!’
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands and wave at supporters as they walk across the South Lawn on their return to the White House, Friday
A spokesman for Mexico’s foreign ministry confirmed that an agreement had been reached to suspend the tariffs, however details of the deal were not immediately clear.
Trump had previously vowed to put a 5 per cent tariff on all imports from Mexico starting on June 10, to be increased an additional 5 per cent monthly until reaching 25 per cent.
Crunch talks between US and Mexican officials continued through the day at the State Department in Washington, with the Trump administration demanding a tough crackdown on the Central American migrants and an agreement to accept their asylum petitions inside Mexico.
Such an agreement, known as a ‘safe third country’ agreement, was thought to be a key sticking point of the talks.
Mexico has previously refused to agree to the commitment, under which asylum seekers would be required to apply for benefits in the first safe country they enter, and not the country where they ultimately want to settle.
If a deal could not be reached, the US intended to hit hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of imports from Mexico with 5 per cent tariffs beginning Monday – a move which could have clobbered Mexico’s economy.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is seen on Thursday. The two countries have been in intensive talks on a ‘safe third country’ deal
The tariffs would have also increased the costs of some imported goods for U.S. consumers.
‘We’re doing all right,’ Trump said without elaborating as he returned to Washington on Friday evening from Europe, as reporters shouted questions about the negotiations with Mexico.
But after leaving Ireland earlier in the day he tweeted that ‘there is a good chance’ that an agreement could be reached.
On Friday, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met with US officials at the State Department for a third straight day to discuss US demands for a crackdown on migrants.
Talks went on late in the afternoon, and there was no news on whether they were making progress.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday morning he was ‘optimistic’ for a deal.
The Trump administration has demanded Mexico take tough action to halt the flow of hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing chronic poverty and violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, who are hoping to request asylum in the United States.
The number of migrants intercepted illegally crossing the border surged to 144,000 in May, the highest level in 13 years.
Many were Central Americans traveling with children, which under current rules means they are often released into the U.S. interior pending an asylum court date.
The US insists Mexico must lock down its border with Guatemala to the south and agree to let asylum seekers register their claims inside Mexico, presumably to wait there while their applications are processed.
Developing story, check back for updates.