U.S. Weighs Delaying Mexico Tariffs as Time for Deal Runs Short

President Donald Trump

Administration officials have said Mexico can prevent the tariffs by securing its southern border with Guatemala, cracking down on criminal smuggling organizations and entering into a "safe third country agreement" that would make it hard for those who enter Mexico from other countries to claim asylum in the U.S.

Mexico would also take an economic hit that analysts have said could spark a recession.

Talks continued into the night at the State Department and were to resume Thursday.

Washington and Mexico are discussing an agreement that would increase Mexico's immigration enforcement efforts and give the United States far more latitude to deport Central Americans seeking asylum, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Americans bought $378 billion worth of Mexican imports previous year, led by cars and auto parts. Trump has increasingly relied on tariffs as a bludgeon to try to force other nations to bend to his will, dismissing warnings, including from fellow Republicans, about the likely impacts on American manufacturers and consumers.

So did Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who said Wednesday the Mexicans had "a long list of things they're going to offer to us, and it will preclude tariffs going into effect". "Progress is being made, but not almost enough", Trump, who is now on a visit to Ireland, said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Trump, who is now travelling in Europe, tweeted from Ireland that the Washington talks would continue "with the understanding that, if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule".

If the tariffs go ahead, the United States would be in a serious trade dispute with both China and Mexico - two of its three top trading partners. "That was my basic message", Senator Ron Johnson told reporters yesterday. Lawmakers could thwart Trump's import tax plan only if they can deliver a two-thirds vote, enough to override a presidential veto.

"Looks like we're moving toward the path of tariffs", White House communications chief Mercedes Schlapp said on Fox News.

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But Mexico surprised US officials Thursday when they returned to the negotiating table and said they would commit to what Pence had requested, according to the official, who cautioned that significant questions about timing and implementation remain.

US authorities continue to push for a more forceful and intimidating enforcement approach from Mexico, while Mexico is urging the United States to address the underlying structural problems in Central America - poverty, violence and drought - that are driving emigration. "Commandeering U.S. trade policy to influence border security is an abuse of power", Neal said.

Trump last month announced a 5% tariff on all imports from Mexico unless the country takes "decisive measures" - as judged by his administration - to stem migrants entering the U.S. He said the tariffs would begin June 10 and scale up incrementally until they reach 25% on October 1.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he is "optimistic" that a deal will be reached.

Mr. López Obrador told reporters "all options" are under review in the event Mr. Trump goes through with his threat.

The stakes are clear: The 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement made trade with Mexico largely duty-free.

Trump has gone after those who have criticized the tariff threat.

"We're very concerned", said Adam Briggs, vice president of sales and marketing for Trans-Matic Manufacturing in Holland, Mich. "Businesses crave certainty".

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