President Trump said Tuesday it’s “more likely” that he will carry through on his threat to impose harsh new tariffs on Mexican imports unless Mexico curbs immigrants illegally crossing the southern border.
“We are going to see if we can do something, but I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on,” Trump said during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
He said he has been forced to act because Mexico hasn’t taken steps to stop migrants from Central American countries traveling through the country on their way to the US border.
“Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people to try to enter our country, and they could stop it very quickly,” Trump said. “I think they will. If they won’t, we’re going to put tariffs on. Every month those tariffs go from 5 percent to 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 and then to 25 percent.”
Trump has said he would begin the tariffs on June 10.
But Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who is in Washington, DC, for talks, said he predicts the two countries will reach a solution before the tariffs are implemented.
“By what we have seen so far, we will be able to reach an agreement,” Ebrard said Tuesday during a news conference at the embassy. “That is why I think the imposition of tariffs can be avoided.”
Ebrard is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.
Other Mexican officials have been meeting with their US counterparts since Monday.
Trump also said it would be a mistake for congressional Republicans to block the tariffs on Mexican goods.
“I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish,” the president said.
“I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on and we will probably be talking during the time that the tariffs are on, and they are going to be paid,” Trump said.
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