Tariff Dispute Complicates U.S. Ties With Mexico



Vivian Salama, Robbie Whelan | Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico was averted by an immigration deal late Friday, but scrambles anew the already-delicate relationship between two neighbors struggling to resolve the trade and border issues that are top priorities for the White House.

The tensions come as the countries push to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace Nafta, the 25-year-old pact that turbocharged cross-border trade, drew the ire of Mr. Trump and some of his supporters, and more closely bound the nations together.

Under the immigration deal, Mexico largely reaffirmed existing commitments to curb migration from Central America by boosting enforcement on its southern border and expanding efforts in Mexico to handle migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

The agreement also includes the formalization of efforts to support economic development in Central America and, according to Mr. Trump, it could prompt an increase in Mexican purchases of U.S. agricultural products, though no such language was included in the pact. The U.S. reserved the right to review implementation of the agreement every 90 days.

Mr. Trump lifted the threat of tariffs that were scheduled to start Monday. With a crisis averted, both sides claimed a win and the agreement could presage greater coordination.

“We reiterate our disposition for friendship, dialogue and cooperation,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told a rally in Tijuana Saturday. On Sunday, Mr. Trump tweeted: “I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done.”

But the episode served as a reminder of the extent to which issues central to Mr. Trump’s “America First” world view coalesce on Mexico, from slowing immigration to renegotiating the terms of trade to the use of tariffs. These are themes he is expected to campaign on in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.

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