- White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said Mexico could take steps to prevent the administration from following through with sweeping tariffs on its products, which have faced sharp backlash from Republican lawmakers.
- He said Mexico could take in all asylum seekers, ramp up regulation at checkpoints in the country and increase security at the country’s border with Guatemala.
- The tariffs, set to take effect on Monday, would increase costs for American businesses and consumers according to economists.
White House trade advisor Peter Navarro called on Mexico to take steps to stem the flow of migrants to the US on Wednesday, moves he said could prevent the administration from following through with sweeping tariffs that have received sharp backlash from Republican lawmakers.
"We believe that these tariffs may not have to go into effect, precisely because we have the Mexicans’ attention," Navarro, who is seen as the White House’s most hawkish trade advisor, said on CNN. "I think let’s stay calm and look at the chessboard here."
Navarro laid out a series of measures that Mexico could take to keep President Donald Trump from slapping a steep tariff on all of its products on Monday, which would set the stage for retaliation from one of the US’s largest trading partners.
"They can commit to taking all the asylum seekers and applying Mexican laws which are much stronger than ours," Navarro said on Wednesday. He added that Mexico could ramp up regulation at checkpoints in the country and increase security at the country’s border with Guatemala.
In a bid to punish Mexico for what Trump calls an "onslaught" of migrants crossing the southern border, the president said last week he would use emergency powers to impose a 5% punitive tariff on the country that would increase each month through September.
Strong opposition to the new tariffs has emerged among Republican lawmakers. While there may be enough GOP votes to pass a bill to block the tariffs, it remains unclear whether there would be enough support to override a likely presidential veto of any such legislation.
Economists warn Trump’s tariffs on Mexico would threaten to upend trade relationships that have been built over decades while acting as a tax on Americans. In contrast, the White House asserts that foreign exporters pay tariffs, despite the strong expert consensus that such measures hurt businesses and consumers at home.
Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials are expected to meet with a trade delegation from Mexico on Wednesday in an effort to avoid the escalation.
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