Seven former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico issued a statement urging the Trump Administration to “delink trade and immigration” and find other ways to address the Central American migration problem.
They argue that the tariffs could damage Mexico’s economy and “cripple its capacity” to tackle migrant flows and damage the economic growth that contributed to “net zero” Mexican migration to the United States today.
For its part, the Trump Administration has been silent on the potential economic effects of these tariffs.
The former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico are John Negroponte, James Jones, Jeffrey Davidow, Antonio Garza, Carlos Pascual, Earl Anthony Wayne and Roberta Jacobson.
“We former U.S. Ambassadors have worked to transform Mexico and the United States from “distant neighbors,” as they were called in the 1980s, to partners. Under Republican and Democratic Administrations, we sought to build prosperity in both countries and came to understand how our economies, societies and cultures are so intertwined”, they said.
Five points of the former US ambassadors
“U.S. consumers, business and farmers would face billions of dollars of added costs from U.S. tariffs, plus any Mexican retaliatory duties. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. and Mexican private sectors have built a “$1 million dollar a minute” trade relationship ($678 billion in 2018). Companies jointly produce products. Mexico is the U.S.’ second largest export market.”
“The economic relationship now supports 5 million U.S. jobs. It helps U.S. companies to compete against China and other trading powers. For U.S. farmers: Mexico is their number three market, buying $19 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2017. If the US imposes new and rising tariffs, expect the same from Mexico on U.S. agricultural products that will have little chance of finding new markets quickly.”
“If the U.S. and Mexico start down a path of dueling tariffs, both will refocus attention away from solving issues and building prosperity. Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, among others, has already signaled that imposing tariffs could endanger passage of the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to modernize NAFTA. U.S. businesses, farmers and workers would lose out on an up-to-date and stronger set of trade rules and practices that would provide needed certainty and predictability.”
“A battle over trade and migration will almost inevitably undermine the trust needed to forge an improved partnership to tackle cross-border crime. That crime fuels record drug overdoses in the U.S. and widespread violence and record homicides in Mexico. Progress will be more difficult if the U.S. is perceived to harm Mexican jobs with tariffs”.
“Mexico bears a significant burden from these migrant flows. Mexico’s Foreign Secretary says over 25,000 asylum seekers are waiting in Mexico for decisions or interviews with U.S. authorities, and another 24,000 have applied for refuge in Mexico this year. The Mexican government is returning many migrants to their home countries, including through cooperation with U.S. authorities to identify those with criminal connections. To impose tariffs would erode the willingness of Mexicans to slow the spill over into the United States”.