Thu, Jul 25, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Trump says mulling tariffs, remittance fees on Guatemala


US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he is considering a “ban,” tariffs and remittance fees after Guatemala decided not to ink a “safe third country” agreement that would have required the Central American country to take in more asylum seekers.

“Guatemala ... has decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement. We were ready to go,” Trump said on Twitter.

“Now we are looking at the ‘BAN,’ Tariffs, Remittance Fees, or all of the above. Guatemala has not been good,” Trump added.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales blamed the country’s top court and political opponents for undermining his close ties to the US.

Morales was last week due to sign a deal with Trump that would have made the country act as an asylum buffer zone to reduce immigration to the US.

Instead, he canceled the planned summit with Trump at the White House after the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled that he could not ink such an agreement without prior approval from the Guatemalan Congress, which is on a summer recess.

Migrant remittances accounted for 11 percent of Guatemala’s GDP in 2017, or a total of US$8.2 billion, IMF data showed.

The US is Guatemala’s main trading partner, with bilateral trade this year totaling about US$4.7 billion as of May, Bank of Guatemala data showed.

“The Constitutional Court, without any understanding and without the right to interfere in foreign relations, wrongly took a stance against the national interest,” Morales said in a statement on Facebook.

In the past, the Morales government has clashed with the court, which it considers aligned with the opposition.

The case against the deal was filed by several former foreign ministers, the country’s rights ombudsman and a former presidential candidate.

Morales called the politicians “petty” and said that they were attacking the ability to govern the nation.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has made restricting immigration a cornerstone of his presidency and re-election campaign.

He has pushed Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in the region to act as buffer zones and take in asylum seekers who would otherwise go to the US.

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