Tar­iff deal with Mex­ico ex­pected, Trump says

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - Jill COLVIN, Matthew LEE and Luis ALONSO LUGO

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter a week of threats, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared Fri­day that “there is a good chance” the U.S. will strike a deal with Mex­ico to avert the tar­iffs he’s sched­uled to take ef­fect Monday to force the U.S. ally to stem the flow of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants into the United States.

Trump tweeted his more op­ti­mistic view from Air Force One as he flew home from Europe, but added: “If we are un­able to make the deal, Mex­ico will be­gin pay­ing Tar­iffs at the 5% level on Monday!”

The tweet marked a change in tone from ear­lier Fri­day, when his spokes­woman Sarah San­ders told reporters in Ire­land be­fore Trump took off: “Our po­si­tion has not changed. The tar­iffs are go­ing for­ward as of Monday.” Trump has of­ten said un­pre­dictabil­ity helps him ne­go­ti­ate.

A tax on all Mex­i­can goods , which would in­crease ev­ery month up to 25 per cent un­der Trump’s plan, would have enor­mous eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions for both coun­tries. Amer­i­cans bought $378 bil­lion worth of Mex­i­can im­ports last year, led by cars and auto parts.

Many mem­bers of Trump’s Repub­li­can Party and busi­ness al­lies have urged him to re­con­sider – or at least post­pone ac­tu­ally im­ple­ment­ing the tar­iffs as talks con­tinue – cit­ing the po­ten­tial harm to Amer­i­can con­sumers and man­u­fac­tures.

U.S. and Mex­i­can of­fi­cials held a third day of talks at the U.S. State De­part­ment try­ing to hash out a deal that would sat­isfy Trump’s de­mand that Mex­ico dra­mat­i­cally in­crease its ef­forts to crack down on mi­grants. San­ders said the two sides had “made a lot of progress” but not enough.

The talks were said to be focused, in part, on at­tempt­ing to reach a com­pro­mise on changes that would make it harder for mi­grants who pass through Mex­ico from other coun­tries to claim asy­lum in the U.S., those mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion said. Mex­ico has op­posed such a change but ap­peared open to con­sid­er­ing a po­ten­tial com­pro­mise that could in­clude ex­cep­tions or waivers for dif­fer­ent types of cases.

Trump has nonethe­less em­braced tar­iffs as a po­lit­i­cal tool he can use to force coun­tries to com­ply with his de­mands – in this case on his sig­na­ture is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion. And he ap­peared poised to in­voke an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion that would al­low him to put the tar­iffs into ef­fect if that is his fi­nal de­ci­sion, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple mon­i­tor­ing the talks.

“If ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue to go well,” Trump “can turn that off at some point over the week­end,” Marc Short, Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff, told reporters.

Talks had got­ten off to a shaky start Wed­nes­day, as the U.S. once again pressed Mex­ico to step up en­force­ment on its southern bor­der with Gu­atemala and to en­ter into a “safe third coun­try agree­ment” over­haul­ing its asy­lum sys­tem. But as talks pro­gressed Thurs­day, U.S. of­fi­cials be­gan to grow more op­ti­mistic, with Short re­port­ing Mex­i­can “re­cep­tiv­ity” to po­ten­tial asy­lum changes.

Still, he said there was “a long way to go in that par­tic­u­lar piece.”

In Mex­ico, Pres­i­dent An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador would not say whether he would ac­cept his coun­try agree­ing to be a “safe third coun­try.”

“That is be­ing looked at,” he said Fri­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence, where he held out hope a deal could be reached be­fore Monday.

In ad­di­tion, Mex­i­can For­eign Sec­re­tary Marcelo Ebrard said Thurs­day his coun­try had agreed to de­ploy 6,000 Na­tional Guard troops to its bor­der with Gu­atemala to help control the flow of mi­grants as part of its con­ces­sions.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump wave at sup­port­ers as they walk across the South Lawn on their re­turn to the White House on Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton.

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