Mexican officials left the White House on Wednesday without a deal to stave off Donald Trump’s threatened tariffs on all Mexican goods flowing into the United States.
Tweeting from Ireland, the US president announced there had been progress during the talks, “but not nearly enough”.
The vice-president, Mike Pence, expressed similar sentiments, and tweeted that “Mexico must do more to address the urgent humanitarian crisis at our southern border.”
Both men said talks would resume Thursday.
“We’re going to continue our conversations tomorrow because various issues have been raised which must be carefully studied in detail. This happens in any negotiation”, the Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said in a Wednesday press conference.
Ebrard reported talks centered more on migration matters than Trump’s tariff threats – which would start 10 June at a rate of 5% and increase severely if migration numbers don’t drop drastically. “The starting point is both sides recognize the current situation cannot continue,” Ebrard told reporters at the Mexican embassy in Washington. “A report on the numbers were given and the flow [of migrants through Mexico] is growing too much. So it can’t continue as it is.”
In past years, US and Mexican officials tried to keep matters like trade, security and migration separate in their negotiations. But Trump has tweeted discourtesies toward Mexico over manufacturing jobs he believes should be brought to the United States and the increasing flows of migrants – who stream north out of Central America and transit Mexico on their way to the US border.
“What the US government is looking for are measures in the short-term and medium-term” on migration, Ebrard said. Mexico is promoting a multi-billion-dollar development deal for Central America, which the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, insists will slow migration. Observers say the agreement wouldn’t show results for decades.
Mexico appears desperate to reach an agreement. The economy has showed signs of sluggishness. The central bank has lowered its 2019 growth expectations to a range of 0.8% to 1.8% and with tariffs, those figures are expected to worsen.
On Wednesday, the credit rating agency Fitch downgraded Mexico, while Moody’s worsened its outlook for Mexico to negative.
In the United States, Trump is facing opposition towards his tariff plan on both sides of the aisle. Republican senators are deeply opposed to Trump’s tariff plan, though the president has tweeted support from the top House Republican, the California congressman Kevin McCarthy, suggesting House Republicans would back him. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, warned on Wednesday that the proposed tariffs would be “punishing” for both the US and Mexico. Agents made 132,887 arrests in May, the first time that detentions have topped 100,000 since April 2007, and the highest monthly total since Donald Trump took office.
Most border crossers are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and are fleeing gangs, violence and poverty. Many are expected to eventually request asylum.
On Tuesday, a migrant caravan which had crossed into Mexico from Central America was corralled in by Mexican immigration officials and navy marines in the state of Chiapas.