POLITICS

Mexican Ambassador To U.S. Won't Confirm Trump's Trade Pact

Martha Bárcena Coqui says Mexico expects to see higher levels of trade with the U.S. without the imposition of tariffs.

Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. would not confirm on Sunday that a new deal with Mexico that focused on immigration issues includes an agreement by the U.S. neighbor to “immediately” begin buying “large quantities” of U.S. farm products ― as President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend.

Asked repeatedly by host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about Trump’s claim of an agricultural deal to support U.S. farmers, Martha Bárcena Coqui would only note Mexico was expecting higher trade due to other factors. 

“It is our understanding that without tariffs and with USMCA ratification, there will be an increase in rates, both in agricultural products and manufactured products,” Bárcena said, referring to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that has not yet been approved by Congress.

“I’m talking about trade,” she said at another point in the interview, nodding her head when asked by Brennan whether “there was no transaction that was signed off on as part of this deal.”

Bárcena emphasized on Twitter after her “Face the Nation” appearance that she “did not contradict the president of the USA.” However, she still didn’t confirm the president’s tweet.

Three Mexican officials with knowledge of the deliberations told Bloomberg News over the weekend that they were unaware of any specific agreement like the one referred to by Trump.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that much of what was outlined in the joint declaration concerning Mexico’s efforts to stem the number of immigrants heading to the U.S. border was already promised by Mexican officials over the past several months and was not sparked by Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican products. What does appear to be new in the accord is a larger number of troops Mexico has committed to deploy to its southern border with Guatemala: 5,400.

Democrats, however, panned the deal as the product of an administration with no concrete trade strategy.

“They might have accelerated the time table, but by and large the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has,” 2020 presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Republicans, meanwhile, said they were relieved by the accord and with Trump deciding not to go forward ― at least for the moment ― with his threat to impose tariffs on goods coming into the U.S. from Mexico if the country did not do more to address the illegal border crossings by migrants from Central America.

“I think this is a big win for both sides and I think the president’s willingness to use tariffs ― even though I’m not a big supporter of tariffs ― and his willingness to use that probably helped produce a result,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

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