Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Trump lauds ‘overblown’ Mexico deal

COOPERATION:Mexico has described troop deployments to its southern border as an ‘acceleration,’ but the Trump administration hailed them as a new development

AP, STERLING, Virginia

With his threatened Mexican tariffs now on the backburner, US President Donald Trump was looking to claim victory even as some of his Democratic challengers for the White House criticized him for overselling a deal that mostly ramps up existing efforts.

Trump defended the agreement reached by US and Mexican negotiators to head off the 5 percent tax on all Mexican goods that Trump had threatened to impose on Monday as he tried to pressure the country to do more to stem the flow of Central American migrants across the US southern border.

However, he on Sunday also dangled the prospect of renewing his threat if the US ally does not cooperate to his liking.

“There is now going to be great cooperation between Mexico & the USA, something that didn’t exist for decades,” Trump said on Twitter before spending a second day at his Virginia golf course.

“However,” he added, “if for some unknown reason” that does not happen, “we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs.”

Business leaders and many Republicans had urged Trump against the tariffs, saying they would drive up consumer prices, hinder the economy and compromise the ratification of an updated North American trade deal.

The tweets came amid questions about just how much of the deal — announced with great fanfare on Friday — was really new.

It included a commitment from Mexico, for instance, to deploy its new National Guard to the country’s southern border with Guatemala.

However, Mexico had already intended to do that before Trump’s latest threat and had made that clear to US officials.

Mexican officials have described their commitment as an accelerated deployment.

The US also hailed Mexico’s agreement to embrace the expansion of a program implemented earlier this year under which some asylum seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases.

However, US officials had already been working to expand the program, which has already led to the return of about 10,000 to Mexico, without Mexico’s public embrace.

“The president has completely overblown what he reports to have achieved. These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases months ago,” said Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, speaking on ABC’s This Week.

“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,” he said.

Another presidential candidate, US Senator Bernie Sanders, chastised Trump for using tariffs as a threat and operating a “trade policy based on tweets.”

“I think what the world is tired of and what I am tired of is a president who consistently goes to war, verbal war with our allies, whether it is Mexico, whether it is Canada,” he said.

However, US Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, speaking on Fox News Sunday, insisted “all of it is new,” including the agreement to dispatch about 6,000 National Guard troops — a move Mexico has described as an “acceleration.”

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