Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Mexico could impose tariffs over delays at border but dialogue continues

Mexico-United States trade issues came up on two fronts today as Mexico said it was considering retaliatory tariffs for U.S. border slowdowns and a U.S. senator warned that maintaining metal tariffs against that country’s two biggest trade partners would kill the trade deal that replaces NAFTA.

The Mexican government has not ruled out imposing new trade sanctions against the U.S. in retaliation for measures that have had slowed the movement of trade goods across the border.

But foreign trade undersecretary Luz María de la Mora expressed confidence such a move won’t be necessary due to the dialogue Mexico has with Washington.

Truck traffic has been slowed for more than a month as the U.S. has been unable to keep up with the volume since it reassigned hundreds of border agents to handle the influx of migrants attempting to cross from Mexico.

De la Mora said there are provisions in international agreements that stipulate there should be no unnecessary measures implemented that would inhibit trade.

But “what we want is that this is resolved quickly through dialogue and we believe that can be achieved.”

She said Economy Secretary Graciela Márquez has had conversations with her U.S. counterpart, Wilbur Ross, seeking to have more personnel assigned to customs duties.

“We cannot allow this kind of unilateral measure by the United States to affect us. This is an unfortunate blend” of immigration and trade themes.

Meanwhile, another trade irritant came up today in Mexico and in Washington.

De la Mora said a new list of U.S. imports that will be subject to tariffs in retaliation for the U.S. tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum will be announced in the coming weeks.

Those tariffs are also holding up ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) in both Mexico and Canada and threaten to kill the deal in the U.S. Congress.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley wrote in an op-ed piece today in the Wall Street Journal that if U.S. President Donald Trump does not lift the tariffs on Mexican and Canadian metal imports the trade agreement is “dead.”

“These levies are a tax on Americans, and they jeopardize USMCA’s prospects of passage in the Mexican Congress, Canadian parliament and U.S. Congress,” Grassley wrote. “Canadian and Mexican trade officials may be more delicate in their language, but they’re diplomats. I’m not. If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place.”

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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