US President Donald Trump has announced tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico, demanding the country curb illegal immigration into the US. In a tweet, Mr Trump said that from 10 June a 5% tariff would be imposed and would slowly rise “until the illegal immigration problem is remedied”. Jesús Seade, Mexico’s top diplomat for North America, said the proposed tariffs would be “disastrous”. Mr Trump declared a national emergency at the US-Mexico border in February. He said it was necessary in order to tackle what he claimed was a crisis at the US southern border. Border agents say they are overwhelmed, but critics say they are mishandling and mistreating migrants. The US president has long accused Mexico of not doing enough to stem the flow of people, and this is his latest attempt to put pressure on the neighbouring state. Mr Seade said Mexico “must respond vigorously” if the tariffs – a tax on products made abroad – were brought in. However, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded by saying he did not want “confrontation”. “I propose deepening our dialogue, to look for other alternatives to the migration problem,” he wrote in a letter on Thursday.
During his election campaign and throughout his time in office, President Trump has sought funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. He declared the national emergency at the border in an attempt to divert federal funds for a barrier wall, but a judge blocked his efforts in May. The White House said on Thursday that the president would use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to implement the new tariffs on Mexico. In a White House statement, Mr Trump said the tariffs would rise by five percentage points each month until 1 October, when the rate would reach 25%. The tariffs would stay at that level “unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory”, he said. President Trump’s latest tariff proposal is driven by a political issue – which is not to say that previous tariff moves did not have any politics behind them. But it is sure to have financial and economic consequences. Stock markets in many countries have already registered significant falls. Japanese car makers were among those hit – they have operations in Mexico which will be affected if President Trump does go ahead.