Pence meets with Mexican delegation but tariffs seem inevitable now

Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

June 5 (UPI) — Vice President Mike Pence was to meet with Mexican diplomats Wednesday to avert an economic crisis as President Donald Trump’s threatens to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports in retaliation for the country allowing migrants through the country and into the United States.

Mexican officials said they want to show they are doing everything they can to help prevent illegal immigration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer also were expected to attend the meeting.

Exactly what Mexico must do to avoid the tariffs remains unclear.

The tariffs would start at 5 percent Monday and escalate by 5 percent a month to 25 percent by October if Mexico doesn’t take concrete steps to prevent migrants from illegally entering the United States.

Trump has said previously that the tariffs would most likely be imposed.

“Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people to try to enter our country and they could stop it very quickly,” Trump said. “And if they won’t, we’re going to put tariffs on them.”

Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser for Trump, was more optimistic that Mexico will cooperate.

“We believe that these tariffs may not have to go into effect precisely because we have the Mexicans’ attention,” Navarro said.

He said Mexico needs to apply Mexican laws to all the asylum seekers that pass through that country on their way to the United States.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he believes there’s an 80 percent chance Trump doesn’t impose the tariffs. The Mexican delegation spent Tuesday working on a plan for the meeting.

“What Mexico must do and we are doing is to prepare and we have our strategy on how to coexist with what sometimes can be unpredictable,” Ebrard said. “We can’t guarantee that in the future there won’t be another sort of differences with the United States but we have to be prepared to manage them.”

Some of the biggest backlash to Trump’s tariff threat came from Republican senators who say they could slow the U.S. economy and prolong trade talks with the country.

Some senators have said they will not support the tariffs and would consider legislation to stop them and curb Trump’s ability to impose them unilaterally in the future.

“This would certainly give me great pause in terms of supporting that type of declaration to enact tariffs versus building the wall, which I completely supported,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said. “Listen, Republicans don’t like taxes on American consumers, what tariffs are.”

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