New York Times: Mexico’s Foreign Minister to Meet With Pence in Effort to Avoid Trump Tariffs



Michael D. Shear and Ana Swanson | New York Times

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence will meet Wednesday with Mexico’s foreign minister as officials on both sides of the border try to avert the potentially crippling economic consequences of President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports.

Mr. Trump has vowed to impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods from Mexico beginning Monday and to increase the tax to 25 percent by October if Mexico does not prevent migrants from illegally entering the United States. Mr. Trump, speaking Tuesday in London, said that it was “more likely that the tariffs” would be imposed on Monday as he has threatened.

Mexican officials, along with Republican lawmakers, are trying to prevent that outcome. Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign minister, is scheduled to meet on Wednesday afternoon at the White House with Mr. Pence, a senior administration official said, in an effort to convince the president that Mexico is doing everything it can to help prevent illegal immigration across the United States border. As of Tuesday night in London, as he was preparing to leave for Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also expected to attend the meeting.

Mr. Trump, frustrated by what he views as Mexico’s failure to stem the flow of migrants, said he would use broad emergency powers to impose punishing tariffs on the country. But it remains unclear what Mexico could do to satisfy Mr. Trump and persuade him to back down.

Top American officials have spoken in vague terms about what steps Mexico must take. Still, Mr. Ebrard has expressed optimism, telling reporters on Tuesday in Washington that there was an 80 percent chance that Mr. Trump would not impose the tariffs.

Few in Washington shared his optimism for the high-stakes discussions as the clock ticked toward Monday’s deadline. Carlos Heredia, a professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City, said Tuesday that whatever action Mexico takes to prevent migration into the United States, it was unlikely to satisfy the president.

“If there is any logic to the way that President Trump handles policy, it’s that he likes conflict,” Mr. Heredia said. “I don’t think that there is a way to please Trump.”

Mr. Trump’s threat to tax Mexican products has rattled financial markets and prompted an outcry from businesses that would be affected, including automakers, agricultural companies and retailers. The chairman of the Federal Reserve said on Tuesday that the central bank was watching Mr. Trump’s trade war warily and would act to prevent economic damage from the conflict.

Mr. Trump has made heavy use of tariffs on trading partners from China to Europe, but imposing tariffs on Mexico, the United States’ largest trading partner, would be a significant escalation in the president’s trade war. Mexico is a key supplier of products like fresh tomatoes and grapes; bluejeans; televisions; medical devices; and automobiles. Many companies have created supply chains that snake back and forth across the border — meaning some companies could be forced to pay Mr. Trump’s tariff multiple times as their products travel from farms to factories to consumers.

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