Mexico's foreign minister warned Monday of dire economic consequences if the United States impose the tariffs threatened by President Trump as a punishment for the influx of migrants to the US border. Marcelo Ebrard, speaking at a press conference in Washington, said the threat would have no impact on Mexico's immigration policy.
"Mexico is ready to work on issues of common interest," said Ebrard. "The introduction of tariffs will have a counterproductive effect and will not reduce the flow of migration."
Ebrard said he and other officials would spend the next few days persuading the White House not to enforce the tariffs set by Ebrard and the other Mexican officials said it would be catastrophic.
"What are we doing? Diplomacy, "he said.
It remained unclear, however, what changes in immigration enforcement could suggest that Mexico satisfy Trump. The Trump administration has said Mexico must do more to secure the southern border with Guatemala and ban buses from migrants.
The government also pushed for the implementation of a so-called "safe third country" agreement, which would force asylum seekers to seek their residence in Mexico and not in the United States, making it easier for US immigration officials to turn them around, when you emerge at the border.
Ebrard said on Monday that such a policy was "unacceptable to Mexico."
He stressed that Mexico's main proposal to stop migration is to invest in Central America and that its immigration policy is linked to international migration agreements. Mexico's constitution "and its own dignity".
"If there are only sanctions, it will not work," Ebrard said, adding that so far the United States has been slow to work on a joint migration-reduction aid program.
"We do not have a single project," he said.
Other high-ranking Mexican officials spoke at the press conference about what would be lost if the tariffs were implemented. According to Víctor Villalobos, Mexico's Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development, the agricultural industry would lose $ 1.4 billion a year at a 5 percent rate.
The tariffs would be very damaging, not only for Mexico, "but for the supply chain, which produces goods every day in Mexico and the United States," said Mexican Secretary of Commerce Graciela Márquez Colín.
Other Mexican officials talked about the impact of tariffs on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). A few hours before Trump threatened tariffs, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – the agreement that Trump called NAFTA 2.0 – to the Mexican Senate for ratification. This vote has not yet been held.
"We found a very good match that Trump himself celebrated. What we need to do is what we did last week, "said Jesus Seade, Mexico's deputy foreign minister for North America.
"Suddenly we have this huge distraction," he said. In a Sunday tweet, López Obrador wrote in relation to himself in the third person: "The President of Mexico wishes to continue to be a good friend of President Trump."
This was a striking change in the tone of a letter from López Obrador Am On Thursday sent to Trump, saying that Trump's "America first" policy was "a fallacy."
For the last few days, Ebrard had been broadcasting Mexico's preparations for his meetings with American diplomats on the customs issue on a regular basis. There was a selfie at the airport, a picture of Mexican diplomats in a boardroom, and a photo of Mexican Secretary of Commerce Márquez Colín with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
In his tweets, Ebrard, as well as in his press conference, tried to assure that the threat of tariffs could be averted by diplomacy.
"The contacts multiply. The negotiations continue, "he wrote under the photo of Márquez Colín and Ross.
In another tweet, he warned the US about the consequences of agricultural policy. "Avoid shooting yourself in the foot," he wrote.