Mexico to Cancel U.S. Customs Taxes

Mexico is on the offensive to cancel U.S. customs taxes.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón in Washington today, 2019.

A major Mexican delegation launched an offensive in the United States on Monday to try to convince the US to abandon the upcoming introduction of customs taxes, a move designed to force Mexico to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from their border, but which could prove to be "counter productive" according to Mexico City.

However, both countries believed that the new crisis could be resolved before these taxes came into force on the 10th of June, thanks to talks this week in Washington.

These new tensions come in the midst of the ratification process of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA or Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte) which creates a a trilateral trade bloc in North America between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The gradual introduction of tariffs, up to 25% on 1 October, could "cause financial and economic instability" that could threaten Mexico's ability to "control migration flows," the head of diplomacy Marcelo Luis Ebrard said, who is a member of the delegation in the US capital.

The Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assumed office on the first of December 2018. He had expressed optimism earlier about a favorable outcome. "We are in for trade freedom and an agreement can be reached," he said at a news conference in Mexico City.

The talks in Washington "have great potential for success," said Kevin Hassett, economic adviser to the U.S. president. "Customs taxes against Mexico are of crucial importance to the Mexican economy and less crucial to the U.S. economy."

Donald Trump once again via twitter called on Mexico City on Monday to act:

"As a sign of goodwill, Mexico should immediately stop the flow of people and drugs through its country to our southern border. He can do it if he wants to!"

Marcelo Ebrard, who is scheduled to meet with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, said he also hoped to hold talks with acting Homeland Security Minister, Kevin McAleenan, who assumed office on April 11, 2019 and is in charge of border surveillance.

McAleenan served as Acting U.S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection from January 2017 to March 20, 2018.

President Donald Trump appointed McAleenan as permanent commissioner in May 2017. McAleenan's previous candidacy was supported by officials from the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, some of whom had signed a letter to Congress expressing their "enthusiastic support" for McAleen, whom they described. "highly qualified". President Trump formally submitted the nomination to the Senate on May 22. The U.S. Senate confirmed McAleenan's appointment on March 19, 2018 (by 77 votes to 19).

Mexican Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez met Monday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He was quoted as saying in a statement that he had "reiterated the president's message that Mexico must do more to help the United States manage immigration across our shared border."

According to the U.S. administration, more than 100,000 people were arrested in March and April by illegally crossing the Border between Mexico and the United States, provoking the wrath of Mr. Trump, who has made the fight against illegal immigration a priority of his presidency.

After promising to build a wall along the border and threatening to close the crossings, the US president now wants to force Mexico to act against the thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, fleeing the violence and crossing Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

In particular, Washington is calling on Mexico to "secure" its southern border and demanding that immigrants fleeing violence seek asylum in Mexico, described as a "safe country".

Mr. Ebrard rejected the proposal as "unacceptable", pointing to the actions already taken by Mexico.

Between December 2018 and May 2019, more than 80,500 people were returned to their country, a process that had a "significant financial cost" to the Mexican government, he said. And since the beginning of the year, nearly 25,000 people have applied for asylum in Mexico.

Without these efforts, "a quarter of a million more migrants would arrive at the U.S. border in 2019," he said.

For Ebrard, the goal is to cooperate with Washington to "accelerate the economic development" of the three Most Affected Central American Countries, which would reduce the "forced migration" caused by poverty and crime against this region.

"The root causes of this wave of migration must be addressed and a comprehensive response to it must be addressed," he said, noting that the United States had canceled some aid programs for the three countries of the "Northern Triangle" in March (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras).

But Washington pledged in December to make significant investments in the region and southern Mexico in the hope of stemming the influx of migrants.

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