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Mexico hits back at Trump over new tariffs, migrants

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s president said on Friday the country is “doing our job” to stop the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States, warning Donald Trump that hitting his neighbour with tariffs would be a lose-lose game.

However, the US president only doubled down on his threat to impose tariffs of up to 25 per cent on all imported Mexican goods, saying “Mexico has taken advantage of the United States for decades” in a new flurry of tweets.

In a 7am press conference, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador repeated his call for calm and dialogue in response to Trump’s explosive announcement on Thursday night that the US would impose tariffs on Mexican goods “until the illegal immigration problem is remedied”.

Trump said the tariffs would start at five per cent on June 10, then rise by five percentage points per month to a level of 25 per cent from October — an announcement that sent global markets and the Mexican peso plunging.

The impact would be devastating for Mexico, which sends 80 per cent of its exports to the US. But Lopez Obrador reminded his American counterpart the tariffs would also take a heavy toll on the United States, whose largest trading partner so far this year is Mexico — thanks mainly to Trump’s trade war with China.

“No good can come of coercive measures…. These (tariffs) would not be good for Mexicans, but they would not be good for Americans either,” said Lopez Obrador.

“We have to act prudently…. We are going to insist very much on dialogue,” he added, saying he had already sent a delegation to Washington for talks, led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

Lopez Obrador refrained from mentioning possible retaliatory measures. But Mexico’s top diplomat for North America said on Thursday the country would respond “vigorously” if Trump followed through.

Trump only stepped up his Twitter attacks. “Mexico must take back their country from the drug lords and cartels. The Tariff is about stopping drugs as well as illegals!” he tweeted.

“90% of the Drugs coming into the United States come through Mexico & our Southern Border…. This has gone on for many years & nothing has been done about it. We have a 100 Billion Dollar Trade Deficit with Mexico. It’s time!”

The number of migrants apprehended at the US-Mexican border has topped 100,000 a month in recent months. That included a new record of 58,474 people who crossed in family groups in April, and a single group of 1,036 people that particularly outraged Trump when it crossed into El Paso, Texas, this week.

They are mostly people fleeing poverty and violence in Central America to ask for asylum once they reach US soil

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