WASHINGTON – The Mexican government said on Thursday that there has been “progress” in the negotiations with the United States on immigration and tariffs, but the White House feels that the Mexican proposals are not enough to avoid the imposition of 5 percent tariffs on imports from that country from early next week.
The second day of talks between the US and Mexico took place at two locations – the State Department and the White House –, where the two delegations held meetings.
In remarks to media, Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that “Mexico needs to do more” to deal with what he called a “humanitarian crisis” on the US-Mexico border, where thousands of Central American immigrants have arrived after traveling through Mexican territory trying to get to the US.
“And our message to the Mexican delegation and our message to the Mexican government is the time has come for Mexico to act decisively to work with the United States of America to assist us in enforcing our laws by enforcing their laws, by securing their border,” said Pence, who led negotiations with the Mexican delegation.
The head of the Mexican delegation, foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, met with officials from the State Department on Thursday morning and said, on leaving the meeting, that there had been “progress.”
“We’re going to continue the talks this afternoon. They still have not concluded. I think that we’re making progress and in the afternoon we could have a more specific view of where we are,” said Ebrard, who was accompanied by Alejandro Celorio, the legal adviser for Mexico’s foreign ministry.
Celorio also held meetings with US officials on Thursday at the White House.
After that meeting, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told EFE that the US’s stance “has not changed” after the latest talks with the Mexican delegation and that “we are still moving forward with tariffs at this time.”
At present, neither the US government nor Mexico have made public the content of their talks, which are focused on reaching an agreement on immigration that can convince Trump not to impose 5 percent tariffs on all Mexican imports starting on Monday.
The only thing that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration has made public is its offer to send 6,000 members of the National Guard to the border with Guatemala to stop the flow of Central American immigrants.
Late Thursday, Ebrard explained that “the National Guard will be in the southeast of the country. It will be throughout the country but will have priority in the south of the country,” and added that this matter has already been raised with the US government during the meetings in Washington.
The National Guard is a security force created by Lopez Obrador this year, consisting of soldiers, sailors and police officials and it is led by a retired military officer.
For Mexico, the US is its main trading partner and they shipped products worth $328 billion – mainly vehicles and vehicle components – to its northern neighbor during the first 11 months of 2018, representing 79.4 percent of the country’s total exports.