Joining lawmakers, progressive critics, and economists in the U.S. who denounced President Donald Trump’s tariff threat against Mexico Thursday as a reckless move that will harm American consumers, Mexican trade negotiator Jesús Seade warned that the proposed duty on his country’s goods would have “disastrous” consequences.
“This threat, taken to action, would be extremely serious, and Mexico will not stand with arms crossed,” Seade told reporters following Trump’s policy announcement.
“Trump’s reckless tariff decision removes any pretense that he cares about anything other than exacerbating the border crisis and exploiting it for political gain.”
—Rep. Raul Grijalva
Seade said Mexico “will respond energetically” if the tariff takes effect, but added that it will seek talks with the Trump administration before retaliating.
In a letter to his U.S. counterpart on Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico emphasized the need for dialogue and said he does not want a confrontation.
If talks fail, Seade warned, “it would mean a trade war.”
As with so many of his enormously consequential policy moves, Trump announced his decision to impose a 5 percent tariff on imported Mexican goods by June 10 on Twitter.
If Mexico does not ramp up its crackdown on migrants crossing to the U.S., Trump tweeted, the tariff “will gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied.”
In a statement on Thursday, the White House said the tariffs “will be increased to 15 percent on August 1, 2019, to 20 percent on September 1, 2019, and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019. Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.”