The U.S. and Mexico are lauding an agreement struck Friday to prevent new tariffs, but the tenuous pact relies on Mexico’s ability to decrease immigration to the U.S. and does not include some form of promise for Mexico to import more U.S. ag commodities.
“There is now going to be great cooperation between Mexico & the USA, something that didn’t exist for decades,” President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets this weekend. “However, if for some unknown reason ... there is not, we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs — But I don’t believe that will be necessary.”
Trump announced a little over a week ago that the U.S. would hit Mexico with a 5% tariff on all of its exports if the country did agree to stop Central American migrants from reaching the U.S. border. That tariff would have gone into place today and then gone up to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and 25% on Oct. 1.
But for now the pact is in place — a pact that does not include a commercial arrangement that Trump appeared to be talking about in yet another tweet. Mexico, already the largest foreign market for U.S. dairy, pork and grain, has “AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT,” Trump said. But Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Monday there is no side deal on agricultural trade.
“We don’t have a specific agreement on (agricultural) products,” Ebrard said in Mexico City press conference when he was asked about Trump’s tweet.
He stressed repeatedly that the agreement is solely on immigration and Mexico’s ability to cut down on the flow of Central American migrants crossing through the country to try to get to the U.S. border.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Saturday backed up Trump’s claim that Mexico would buy more U.S. farm commodities because of the deal struck Friday.
“Once again, (Trump) has demonstrated the ability and willingness to solve pressing problems — not only persuading (Mexico) to work with (the U.S.) to solve the humanitarian crisis at the southern border but also insisting that our farmers have better access to Mexican markets …” Perdue tweeted.
USDA spokespersons were unavailable for immediate comment.
Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Barcena, when asked about a special deal on ag purchases on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, stressed that trade will likely improve without tariffs and after the newly renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is ratified and implemented.
The U.S. recently lifted its tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum and Mexico, in return, lifted its tariffs on U.S. cheese, pork, potatoes and apples.
Trade has been robust with Mexico even with those tariffs in place. Mexico imported $1.4 billion worth of dairy products last year, up from $1.3 billion in 2017, according to USDA data. Likewise, Mexican grain imports from the U.S. are also on the rise. The U.S. sold $5.5 billion of grain and feed products to Mexico in 2018, up from $5.2 billion in 2017.
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