Mexicans launch friendly defensive to deflect US tariffs

Mexican officials have copied a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook in recent days, taking to Twitter to communicate that they are working flat-out to de-escalate tensions over immigration and avoid punitive tariffs on all Mexican exports to the U.S.
Announcements of meetings in Washington, selfies and carefully crafted messages of optimism for cool-headed discussions are some of the tactics on display in social media to respond to an economic and diplomatic emergency that few anticipated. Trump’s threat last Thursday to impose tariffs to pressure Mexico to do more to curb the flow of migrants came the same day that Mexico declared it would begin the process of ratifying the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.
Many are questioning the legality of mixing immigration policy goals with trade retaliation, and U.S. business groups are already considering legal action against the proposed tariff, arguing that the countries both produce for each other and together.
“Almost everyone was caught flat-footed,” said Antonio Ortiz-Mena, an international trade consultant based in Washington with the Albright Stonebridge Group who represented Mexico as part of the team that negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s.
Ortiz-Mena said he spent much of the weekend on phone calls and crafting strategies to advise clients in the U.S.-Mexico supply chain on how to navigate the situation. His advice to Mexican officials would be to stay calm and show good faith by ratifying the USMCA trade deal.
“We’re neighbors. We’re not going anywhere,” Ortiz-Mena said.
Mexico’s message has been consistently friendly. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico won’t panic, signing off on a letter to Trump as “your friend” and repeating that his country doesn’t want this confrontation, much less a trade war.
But on Monday, his top officials also strove to set some boundaries.
“There is a clear limit to what we can negotiate, and the limit is Mexican dignity,” said Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena, at a news conference in Washington. She added that her country has taken steps to offer migrants visas, and said that “without Mexico’s efforts, an additional quarter million migrants could arrive at the U.S. border in 2019.”
Mexico is the top export market for U.S. corn and pork, and Mexico supplies one out of three fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States. Tariffs on Mexican agricultural exports are seen raising the cost of avocados, tomatoes and berries for U.S. consumers.
The Mexican strategy of killing with kindness has been met with skepticism and increasingly harsh words from Trump.
“Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Problem is, they’ve been ‘talking’ for 25 years. We want action, not talk.”
Trump says he will impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods beginning June 10 as a way to force the government of Mexico to keep mostly Central American migrants from crossing into the U.S. He says that until he is satisfied with Mexico’s results, the import tax will be increased five percentage points every month through October, topping out at a total tariff of 25%.
López Obrador said Mexican officials will try to better communicate their immigration efforts in Washington this week. He issued a memo to “the people” of the U.S. on Sunday saying he wishes to remain Trump’s friend and professing that Mexicans are their friends, too.
He closed the letter by saying: “Let nothing and nobody separate our beautiful and sacred friendship.”
Original: findance.yahoo.com
By Amy Guthrie

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